DWINDLING numbers are threatening the future of a Littlehampton club which teaches children essential life-saving skills.
St John Ambulances’ Badgers club has been passing on vital first aid skills to children from across the area inside its base, at St John Hall, in Linden Park, for decades.
The group caters for youngsters aged between five and 11 and sees Badgers working their way through a series of special courses which focus on basic first aid and life skills before they progress to becoming St John Ambulance Cadets.
However, as the club’s current crop of senior Badgers look set to progress up the ranks to join their older Cadet counterparts, the group’s long-standing leaders are appealing for fresh faces to sign-up and swell their numbers.
Julie Scully and her husband Martin have been running the group for 15 years, after volunteering for the role as parents of a then serving Badger.
Julie, 49, said: “Numbers have dropped recently. We have always had about 12 to 15 Badgers per session. At one point they shot up to 25. Now it’s just five. So we would really love to see more people join us.”
“The Badgers has just been a real godsend.”Emma Ginnaw, 41, of Wick
The classes are held at every Friday, from 5.30pm until 6.30pm – although session can run on a few minutes later – with nights costing just £6 per month.
Mum Emma Ginnaw, 41, of Wick, said the cost was ‘incredibly cheap’ and the benefits to both of her children, Abi, ten, and Sarah, six, had been immeasurable.
“Abi’s confidence has just grown and grown,” said Emma. “Abi who was someone that didn’t speak at all to now doing debates at Cadets. For her that’s a major thing.
“The skills the children learn are paramount because you never know when they might be needed.
“My daughter Sarah, who is six, for example, has learnt first aid. She had to use that on her grandad. When he had quite a nasty cut she knew exactly what to do. She was quite calm about it and she knew it was going to be okay in the end.
“I’ve even burnt myself before and Sarah ran out and got some cold water to treat it.
“The Badgers has just been a real godsend.”
Children work their way through 15 badges to earn their bronze, silver and gold paws before then receiving the coveted Super Badger Award.
Youngsters build up a range of skills, from treating cuts and wounds and getting casualties into the recovery position to living a healthier lifestyle, adventuring, safety and learning about the world.
On top of this, they also have plenty of fun and games too – with toy bears often featuring as mock casualties, alongside other their fellow Badgers.
Aidan Hemphill, 11, joined the group when he was just five and has already received his Super Badger Award. He is now set to make the leap up to Cadets.
He said that not only has he learnt how to potentially save someone’s life but he has also made some great friends, too.
“Badgers is very exciting,” admitted Aidan. “We get to play a few games and get to learn a lot of really interesting stuff.
“It’s great to know that if one of your friends gets hurt you would know what to do to help them. That’s a good feeling.”
Eloïse Austin, ten, is Aidan’s friend and joined up just weeks after him.
She said she her skills had been called upon to help her dad. “He cut himself and I told him to put it above his head and keep pressure on it.”
Julie added: “You never know when and where you might need someone with first aid. I think having children learn this at such a young age is great.”
To find out more about the Badgers, see www.sja.org.uk
Littlehampton’s club runs every Friday, during term time. For more details, call Julie, on 07986 130891.