Ambulance station officially opened

Grand opening . . . Hato Hone St John deputy chancellor Major Brendan Wood (left) and West Otago Area Committee chairman Russell Kerr cut the ribbon to celebrate the opening of the Tapanui station building. PHOTO: EVELYN THORN

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A rural West Otago community’s fundraising efforts and support for a new Hato Hone St John ambulance station in Tapanui was celebrated at an official opening ceremony earlier this month.

More than 50 invited guests and St John representatives, including local staff and West Otago area committee members, attended the event.

West Otago Area Committee chairman Russell Kerr said they were ‘‘extremely grateful’’ to local community groups both in and around the district who had supported the build or had worked alongside the St John West Otago team.

‘‘This has been a legacy project that we’ve worked very hard for.

‘‘We have had fantastic support from four other surrounding St John area committees and have been incredibly fortunate that most of the funds were raised in the community by the community.

‘‘All in all, we were lucky to bring in $360,770 through donations or bequests to go towards the build, which has all been thanks to some amazing efforts from the committee.

‘‘They have facilitated that locally and just absolutely smashed it — so a huge thank-you to all involved.’’

Although the building was completed and blessed in April last year, St John chose to leave the official opening formalities until this month once landscaping and exterior work had been completed.

‘‘Last year was a bit challenging to plan any big celebrations with the uncertainties of Covid-19 and the traffic light restrictions, so we’re really pleased to finally bring everyone together to celebrate as it’s been a long time coming,’’ Mr Kerr said.

The new station was something the community could be proud of and ‘‘certainly warrants a proper celebration’’.

St John Southland and Otago district operations manager Pauline Buchanan agreed it was ‘‘great’’ to have the ‘‘fantastic new asset’’ and to celebrate its official opening finally with all those involved.

‘‘While it’s certainly been a community effort, we would like to especially acknowledge Russell’s determination to drive this project forward and thank him for all that he’s done to get it completed.

‘‘The finished product is a purpose-built ambulance station and garage that meets St John’s operational requirements, as well as seismic building standards, but also features all the modern conveniences you’d expect, including upgraded security systems.’’