Newspaper Article 2014 – History of HB service related

History of HB service related

Life Savers on Wheels
By John Tobin
Hawke’s Bay Knowledge Bank; $40
Reviewed by Michael Fowler

Many of us or our families have used the services of the Order of St John – either for education or the services of an ambulance.

Long-serving Hastings St John Ambulance man, John Tobin, has written what he calls “Toby’s take on an ambulance service made great”, and follows the evolution of the service in Hawke’s Bay.

The development of the St John Ambulance service in Hawke’s Bay was not an easy task, and the efforts of the mostly volunteer men and women to establish the service is well documented.

Throughout the book numerous photos record many of the moments of the service, including one in 1965 that shows the wreckage of a plane in Heretaunga Street East near the Hastings Municipal Buildings. Knowing a little about Hastings’s history, I wondered how I had not heard about this – but it was a training exercise – and one on a grand scale, complete with fire and debris.

Other real events are covered, such as the Woodford House bus crash in 1987, when five lives were lost and 20 critical and serious injuries occurred. Many other anecdotal vignettes are provided, and I loved the story of the tiny lady ambulance officer, Grace Twist, who strolled on to the Hastings Racecourse and calmed a bucking riderless horse, and casually walked it back to the birdcage.

The book has easy-to-read type, and is an easy read, providing an excellent and interesting account of our St John service in Hawke’s Bay.

John Tobin’s book Life Savers on Wheels will be launched by local historian Michael Fowler at the Hastings Art Gallery, Eastbourne St, tonight from 5pm until 7pm. All are welcome to attend. Books will be available for sale at $40, otherwise from the author, John Tobin, phone 878 2432.

Proceeds go to the St John’s Ambulance service in Hawke’s Bay.

Photo captions –

TOUGH WORK: Circa 1960s, ambulance officer Newton Angove guides a patient up a steep bank after a car left the road.

TEAM WORK: Members of the Fire Service help the patient from the roadside above.


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Business / Organisation

St John Ambulance

Format of the original

Newspaper article

Date published

31 October 2014


Hawke's Bay Today


Published with permission of Hawke's Bay Today


  • Newton Angove
  • Michael Fowler
  • John Tobin
  • Grace Twist

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