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Countess of Wessex presents two ambulances in Malta

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Countess of Wessex presents two ambulances in MaltaThe Earl and Countess of Wessex started their official visit to Malta yesterday. Their visit started with a reception on board HMS Illustrious, berthed in Grand Harbour, which was followed by dinner at the Residence of the British High Commissioner Rob Luke.Countess of Wessex presents two ambulances in MaltaThe Countess of Wessex, as Grand President of St John Ambulance in the Priory of England and the Islands, today (Tuesday) presented two ambulances to St John Ambulance Malta.

The ambulances were donated by the East Midlands Ambulance Service in the UK and were brought to Malta by volunteers from the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary at Boiler Wharf, Grand Harbour. The work was coordinated by Jonathan Knight – President for St John Ambulance (First Aid and Nursing) – Malta.

The ambulances, which have only recently seen service in the East Midlands, were brought to Malta by the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary, as well as volunteers from the Ministry of Defence and Royal Auxiliary Air Force. They arrived on 19 November on board RFA Mounts Bay. RFA Mounts Bay is in Malta along with three other ships – HMS Bulwark, HMS Illustrious and MV Hartland Point – which are taking part in a three-month training deployment to the Mediterranean involving more than 3,000 sailors and marines.

After the presentation, the ambulances were blessed by the two St John Ambulance Chaplains – the Chancellor of the St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral Can. Simon Godfrey and the vice parish priest of Christ the King parish church (Paola) Rev. Fr Vincent Deguara.

Their Royal Highnesses The Earl and Countess of Wessex arrived in Malta on 19 November and leave on 25 November 2012. Prince Edward, as Chairman of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award International Council is here to attend the 11th International Award Forum.

St John Ambulance’s fleet undergoes periodical upgrades or replacements in order to continuously improve on the already high standard or service offered during public duties in Malta and Gozo. Such ambulances are also used in National Emergency Exercises such as the Novex 2012 nationwide exercise and the full scale Aircraft Emergency Exercise held recently at Malta International Airport.

Being a voluntary organisation, St John Ambulance relies mostly on donations as well as the commitment of its uniformed volunteers to carry out the primary mission of caring for the sick and assisting in emergency situations. Volunteers spend on average 2,000 hours a year during which approximately 500 casualties are treated.

St John Ambulance is currently seeking to raise funds to transform an area in Paola into an ambulance training centre which will also include garages that will house the fleet of ambulances. This land was provided by the Government a few months ago.

MAST (‘Maritime Asset Security and Training’), has sponsored the cost of the insurance and maritime insurance of transporting two ambulances donated by the East Midlands Ambulance Service in the UK to St John Ambulance, Malta.

Peter Dimech, Director of MAST said, “We are delighted to have been able to play our small part in the safe delivery of these two ambulances to St John Ambulance, Malta. These additional vehicles will help this fantastic organisation to provide quality first aid and rescue services to the people of Malta.”

Top Photo by Martin Agius shows the Earl and Countess of Wessex meeting crew at the reception on board the HMS Illustrious. Also seen in the right of the photo is the British High Commissioner to Malta Rob Luke. Bottom photos of the ambulance presentation.

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