South Auckland couple inspire with ‘gift of life’ to St John

Jennifer Porter

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As a charity, part-funded by the government, St John relies on public support to continue making a difference – whether making a difference through its Emergency Ambulance Service or offering practical and emotional support through its Community Health Services.

A bequest to St John

Some people choose to make a donation, attend a first aid course or have a St John Medical Alarm, all of which contribute to the $54 million annual shortfall St John must raise. Another way people can support St John without affecting their current financial situation is by leaving a gift to St John in their will – a bequest – like Peter and Lois Steele have chosen to do.

Waiuku couple Peter and Lois have a long relationship with St John, both individually, and as a couple. Peter was a cadet with St John Youth back in the United Kingdom, while Lois’ father gifted a piece of land to St John for the building of the Waiuku Ambulance Station.

Like most of us, Peter and Lois do not like to imagine needing to use St John services.

However, when Peter had a stroke, both realised that they could always rely on St John to be there, saying: “St John was just a phone call away.”

Calming influence

To this day, Peter remembers the calming influence of the St John ambulance officers when he suffered a stroke.

“They were just amazing. They went about their job treating me calmly and efficiently and constantly reassuring me as they took me to Middlemore Hospital,” he said.

Lois was at work when she received a call from the ambulance officers and, despite it being an emergency, their reassuring tone gave her confidence that Peter was in good hands.

Both Peter and Lois have confidence that should anyone need help, including themselves, St John will be there.

After the stroke, Peter and Lois knew they needed to make a will, and it was their confidence in St John that reinforced their decision to leave a gift to the organisation in their will. When asked if they would like to leave money to any charity whilst drawing up their will, they both said St John “straight away.”

Willing gift

“We have worked all of our lives and want to give back to an organisation that has helped us greatly. St John is marvellous; it has been there to help me and others I know, and I wholeheartedly support St John and encourage people to leave a gift to them in their will as we have. We are comfortable with the knowledge that we will have done something good,” Peter said.

Being from a close-knit community where everyone helps each other, Peter and Lois realise how integral St John is to communities like theirs across New Zealand.

They now have peace of mind knowing their gift will help their family, friends and future generations, and they have confidence that St John will use their gift in the best possible way.

Community support

St John Regional Fundraising and Marketing Manager Hannah Davies said that Peter and Lois are ordinary people who have decided to do something extraordinary.

“Peter and Lois have made a decision that will enable future generations to enjoy the same care that St John provided to them. Wanting to do more but not having the money available now, they have chosen to leave a gift in their will as it does not affect their current situation, and they can choose how their donation is spent. We are so incredibly grateful for their generosity.

“We know that people’s wills are very private and we respect that, but we have recently received a number of bequests from generous supporters and we are saddened we didn’t have a chance to say, ‘Thank You’ in their lifetime. By remembering St John in your will like Peter and Lois – even in a small way – you can support the health of your community for future generations,” says Ms Davies.

For information about making a bequest to St John,


Or call Suzana Noth on (09) 5791015 x 8472


Know the signs of a stroke

Each year, around 9000 people have a stroke – around one every hour.

Strokes can happen to anyone, anytime.

Peter was lucky, but delayed recognition of a stroke means delayed intervention, which can have tragic consequences.

It is important to know the signs of a stroke and think FAST:

Face – Is their face drooping on one side?

Arm – Is one arm weak?

Speech – Is their speech jumbled, slurred or lost?

Time – Time to call 111.

If you suspect you or someone else is having a stroke, or see any FAST signs, call 111 immediately.

Jennifer Porter is Regional Communications Advisor (Northern Region) of St John.


Photo Caption:

  1. Gift of lifetime: Peter and Lois Steele
  2. St John on the move

(Pictures supplied)

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