Ep­som marks 100 years of St John

Central Leader - - NEWS -

A cen­tury of his­tory is be­ing cel­e­brated by the St John Ep­som Di­vi­sion.

The group marked its 100th an­niver­sary on Fri­day.

It was formed as a di­rect re­sponse to the need to care for in­jured World War I vet­er­ans.

Nurse Eve­lyn Firth ap­proached the Auck­land Hos­pi­tal Board in 1914 to pro­vide fa­cil­i­ties to care for the re­turn­ing wounded.

A two-storey house in Ep­som’s Domett Ave was con­verted to a con­va­les­cence home and Firth set about es­tab­lish­ing a St John Am­bu­lance Bri­gade Nurs­ing Di­vi­sion to pro­vide the nurs­ing staff.

‘‘It was a real achieve­ment to form this kind of group. Eve­lyn saw a need and then de­cided to do some­thing about it,’’ St John ar­chiv­ist Guy Marks says.

‘‘The ser­vice is still de­liv­ered 100 years later.’’

Be­tween 1914 and 1918, Firth main­tained the nurs­ing group in Ep­som and went on to es­tab­lish two other con­va­les­cence homes in

be­ing Par­nell and Devon­port. In 1918 she died of in­fluenza, aged 43.

An Ep­som men’s di­vi­sion was formed in the 1930s and the group moved to its cur­rent site in Manukau Rd. It is prob­a­bly the last of th­ese groups to meet in its own fa­cil­ity.

The men and women’s di­vi­sions merged in the 1970s and there is a youth di­vi­sion with more than 100 mem­bers.

The Par­nell home was re­named the Eve­lyn Firth Home in hon­our of the work done by her.

Founders: The St John Ep­som Di­vi­sion circa 1914. Eve­lyn Firth is to the left of the man at the front.

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