When it comes to his association with St John Ambulance, success seems to come easily for Oamaru’s Caleb Jopson.
The 15-year-old recently represented the South Island at the St John National Youth Festival in Whangarei, where the South Island team claimed first place over the Northern and Central teams in drill, first aid, healthcare and communication challenges.
Caleb, a cadet sergeant believed to be the first person from Oamaru in 40 years to be selected to compete at national level, said the experience was something he would never forget.
“It’s actually one of the best experiences of my life, to be honest. I learned so much that I’ll take with me for the rest of my life and I made lifelong friends, so it was a really good experience.”
He planned to pass on first aid and communication skills and drills he perfected to other St John Youth members in Oamaru.
Still on a high from his achievements at national level, Caleb continued his success at a recent Aoraki competition.
He finished first in seven of the eight sections – first aid medical, care giving, resuscitation, communication, individual written, individual drill and individual aggregate. The only section he did not win was trauma, finishing second.
His overall performance was enough to claim the Andrew Stafford Cup.
The team he was part of at the event also won the colour party event, which is marching with flags.
Based on his recent triumphs, he was named deputy district cadet of the year to go with the non-commissioned officer of the year award for the Oamaru area he won in 2016.
Caleb, a pupil at St Kevin’s College, was surprised at the district cadet accolade, but thrilled to be recognised.
“I was quite stoked. I’m only 15 and a lot of people don’t get to that until they’re 17 or into their last years of school.
“I found it really cool .. to have that and work with my district in a wider region of the South Island to develop and get it out there, I find that pretty cool.”
He hoped to embark on a career with St John in the future.
“What I want to do when I’m older is to become an intensive care paramedic, the highest clinical ambulance kind of thing in St John.
“That involves studying in Auckland for six years and then working with them. That’s something I definitely want to do .. it’s something I’m passionate about.”
Last year, Caleb received the organisation’s Grand Prior Award, the highest honour a cadet can receive.
To earn the award, a cadet must perform 100 hours of community service and complete six compulsory subjects and six other subjects that are chosen by the cadet and cover various areas.
He will be presented with the award by Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy at Government House in Wellington in October.