TWO North Devon members of the St John Ambulance organisation have been out to the Caribbean to visit ‘twins’ in Barbados.

Devon St John has been twinned with Barbados St John since 2008, following a visit by Roger Jacob of Barnstaple, area president North Devon and member of St John Council Devon.

This time Roger returned with Sue Ayre, divisional superintendent of the Ilfracombe Combined Cadet Division.

Devon has provided Barbados with an ambulance, first aid training equipment and a number of band instruments - originally given to Barnstaple St John Youth Band by the late Mr and Mrs Percy Brend. The donation was endorsed by the Brend family.

Devon also provided a trainer in 2009 to attend a disaster preparedness trainer course on the Caribbean island of Grenada and to provide support and guidance in Barbados on brigade and commercial training courses.

Roger and Sue went to Barbados and took part in a “governance” seminar and youth weekend workshop.

They spent time with all groups of Barbados St John, from senior officers and members of council, to cadets and their leaders, adult members and their officers and local supporters. They also met with the president of the Hilton Rotary Club, who is keen to work with and support Barbados St John.

The majority of funding for the Devon-Barbados St John partnership has come from Rotary clubs in North Devon, primarily Barnstaple and also Ilfracombe, together with Barnstaple Masonic Lodge and Brend’s Hotels Ltd.

Roger said: “While in Barbados it was fantastic to see the Devon Ambulance ‘on the road’ and in full visibility of the public and the newly formed Barbados St John Youth Band, who had given their first public performance the previous week at an event attended by the governor general and at which the ambulance had been dedicated. This was quite an emotional and humbling moment for me.”

David Hayward, Devon St John county commander, said: “Devon anticipates at some time in the future hosting a Barbados St John Cadet and visa versa, some Barbadian St John trainers and the Barbados St John commissioner. They will all be made most welcome”.

The twinning with Barbados has come through the St John International Office in London, who co-ordinate and support St John associations throughout the world seeking STAPLE - Short Term Assistance Plus Local Effort - partners for overseas associations.