After 16 years in Oamaru, St John area executive officer Felicia McCrone is moving on.
Her husband, Bruce, works for Alliance Group and was recently transferred to Invercargill, where he will assume a new post in November.
At the end of the third school term, Mrs McCrone will make the move to the deep south, where she will continue to work for St John at district level, overseeing six divisions in Central Otago.
It is not the first time she will have followed her husband to a new place – she did exactly the same thing in 2000 when she relocated to Oamaru from Dunedin.
Originally from Alexandra, Mrs McCrone was educated at Dunstan High School before she studied early childhood education at teachers’ college in Dunedin.
Once qualified, Oamaru came calling.
“I worked in a number of kindergartens – I was at Barnardos for quite a long time,” she said.
“Then I was self-employed for about five years as a Tupperware consultant. I was looking after the bottom half of the South Island.”
Mrs McCrone was involved with St John when she was growing up, and was keen to rejoin the organisation at some stage.
When offered her current role, she jumped at the chance.
“I’d been a cadet in Alexandra, so I’d been part of the youth division … it was a natural progression back to St John.”
Mrs McCrone is in charge of the Oamaru office, and said her Monday to Friday job involved liaising between all of the different arms of St John and the public.
“I think I enjoy the variety. I get to interact with a lot of wonderful people from people coming in to use the hall and people wanting to book first aid classes through to community groups that might have something where we can partner with them.”
She also works closely with retired St John members and parents of children and young people in the organisation’s youth division.
“There’s a little bit of everything, and no one day’s the same.”
St John Oamaru has 22 volunteer staff members who back up six and a-half paid ambulance staff, as well as 62 youth members aged between six and 18.
Five people also volunteer as part of St John’s Caring Caller service, which Mrs McCrone said needed bolstering.
“Our Caring Caller service is when we ring people that are at home alone that might not have a lot of friends or family around. They can be quite lonely, so that’s one phone call a week to someone.
“It’s a lot about relationship building. It’s about being the ambulance at the top of the cliff rather than the stretcher at the bottom – it just gives people a sense of belonging in their community.”
As well as time constraints, Mrs McCrone there was a fear of the unknown when it came to volunteering for St John.
“I think people might be scared of the commitment required . . . it’s a slow process with lots of learning involved.
“For our beginning level people, they do what’s called a first responder qualification and that’s one that’s got NZQA qualifications attached to it. It’s got a first aid certificate and includes safe handling practices and things like that.”
Despite needing more volunteers, she felt St John Oamaru was in good shape.
“I think it’s looking pretty strong at the moment. One of my projects is working on an op shop proposal for St John, which will be pretty exciting when that comes through, and ‘m also working on our 125th celebrations in April next year, for being part of the Oamaru community for 125 years.”
A project to build a new ambulance station in Oamaru was also coming together well, she said.
While Mrs McCrone looked forward to the new challenges that await her, she was not looking forward to leaving Oamaru behind.
“I’m quite sad that my time in Oamaru is drawing to a close. I raised my kids here and have been very well supported . . . but it’s a new chapter.”