‘Serving Sister’ humbled by honour

Well deserved . . . The Chancellor of St John in New Zealand John Whitehead CNZM, KstJ, presents Jackie Greenall with her medal admitting her as a Serving Sister to the order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem at the investiture recently. PHOTO: ST JOHN/SUPPLIED


Jackie Greenall’s 4-year-old granddaughter Evie thinks her nanny is ‘‘very cool’’.
Mrs Greenall, of Balclutha, was admitted as a Serving Sister to the Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem during a recent investiture in Christchurch.
But as far as Evie is concerned, Nanny just got ‘‘presents and a medal’’ in a big cardboard church.
The St John stalwart almost didn’t make it back from the ceremony, as the Temuka road bridge closed behind her as she and husband Craig returned south from Christchurch to Dunedin during the recent Canterbury floods.
Before that drama unfolded, however, she lined up with 19 other members of St John who were receiving medals, awards and knighthoods during Queen’s Birthday weekend.
Her admission to the Order of St John as a member, sanctioned by the Queen as head of St John, was in acknowledgement of her contribution to the work of St John in South Otago over more than two decades.
Now officially dubbed a Serving Sister, Mrs Greenall said she was humbled by the experience.
‘‘But it’s back to normal today, supporting the youth in the Clutha District and working with the St John leaders here,’’ she said.
“I accepted it on behalf of all of my friends and family to acknowledge their support for me since I joined St John.’’
The Order of St John honours system runs parallel to Queen’s Birthday honours, and confers membership on those who give back to St John and the community, and ‘‘act conspicuously’’ to fulfil the organisation’s mission.
It is the only organisation in New Zealand permitted to do so, and promotion to the order is based solely on exceptional service, rather than age or length of service.
The investiture ceremony at the Christchurch Transitional Cathedral is one of the biggest events in the St John calendar.
Mrs Greenall began with St John as a cadet leader in June 1999 and soon became the divisional manager of the youth arm in Balclutha, a position she held until December 2019.
In 2000, she trained as an ambulance officer, eventually gaining her emergency medical technician certificate, but this came to an end in 2015 due to health reasons.
Her citation detailed how she had given thousands of voluntary hours, with the support of family, to expand the youth programme in Clutha and Coastal Otago.
‘‘That support has provided the youth of these areas many opportunities, not only including weekly divisional meetings, but organising and attending weekend events, festivals and countless fundraising activities,’’ the citation said.
However, Mrs Greenall remained characteristically modest regarding the honour.
“I’m just a small part of a large team of volunteers here in Balclutha.’’