Healing hands . . . Temuka St John Youth cadets Gabriella Anderson-Bowden (left, 9) and Maddison Butters (10) test their first aid skills on volunteer Aaron Welch (14). PHOTO: RUBY HEYWARD

Healing hands were put to the test on Saturday.

Coming from all over the Aoraki district, 45 cadets gathered in Oamaru for the St John Youth Competition held at Te Pakihi o Maru School.

Competitors, aged 6 to 18, were tested on drills and first aid and completed a written test.

The cadets competed for one of the four spots at the regional competition.

Oamaru’s squadron 26 of the Air Training Corps cadets were there, volunteering their time to feign injuries.

Cadet Aaron Welch spent the morning lying in a bed of tussock while the St John Youth cadets tended to his injured arm and bloodied shin.

The latter was courtesy of a St John cadet.

However, it was not real – “casualty simulation” was a skill they were taught in the St John programme.

St John district youth manager Tracey Harris said the yearly competition was important for the cadets to practise and test their skills.

And she would know.

“I was a cadet .. for me it was fun and exciting,” Ms Harris said.

Once the children put on the uniform there was a huge sense of pride, she said.

“They are all passionate about the programme.”

District cadet of the year Harry Wilson (17) certainly was.

Harry had been involved with St John for five years and said it had given him confidence, focus, and discipline.

Once Harry turned 18 he would become a leader.

He enjoyed learning skills to would help others.

Area youth manager Mel Read said that was what being part of St John was about.

“You have to be a caring person,” Mrs Read said.