St John Ambulance Cadets in the UK

St John Ambulance Cadets is a youth section of St John Ambulance for members aged between 10 and 17 that was founded in 1922,[1] in order to train young people in first aid, social actions, wellbeing, comunication and other essential skills.[2] It has grown to be one of the biggest youth organisations in the United Kingdom, with over 20,000 members.[3] Members take part in a very wide variety of activities, including providing first aid at major and community events, attending camps, completing awards, participating in competitions, learning leadership and training skills and fundraising.

St John Ambulance Cadets
A St John Ambulance cadet tying a bandage around another cadet's wrist.
TypeCharitable Organisation
Youth Organisation
PurposeFirst aid education
Headquarters27 St John's Lane, Clerkenwell, London EC1M 4BU
18,000 under 18s
Head of Youth
Tamsin Mallion
Youth HR Administrator
Soniya Irman
National Cadet of the Year
Mary Oshinyemi
Parent organization
St John Ambulance
AffiliationsVolunteer Police Cadets
Updated: 2019-12-17

The Cadet program is currently under a review process with the new program for cadets set to launch fully in 2020 to reflect a more modern award for young people. This will include the Grand Prior Award, leadership courses and the continued development of the first aid courses provided. This has been under design since 2017 and has been an inclusive process including youth leaders from all four regions of the priory in England, St John Ambulance Wales, Cadets from across the four regions and other stakeholders.


  • First Aid - there are two first aid courses for Cadets: a basic induction 'First Aid for Cadets', a 10-hour course which introduce cadets to providing first aid on events and a 'Cadet Operational First Aider' qualification, which mimics the adult first aid role; allowing cadets to treat under supervision. First Aid training is also completed as a module within the Membership Award that all Cadets undertake. Cadets are trained in the use of an AED as part of both courses.
  • Cadet Leadership - Cadets are encouraged to attend Cadet Leadership courses, which take place at two levels. The courses teach skills which enable cadets to be promoted to Cadet Young Leaders (NCOs) within their units. The Cadet Leadership courses count towards the Cadet's Grand Prior Award.
  • Peer Education - completion of this course allows Cadets to gain a BTEC Level 2 Certificate in Peer Education, an externally accredited qualification. Following the completion of the qualification, Cadet Peer Educators are able to give first aid training to young people and can teach Grand Prior Award subjects in which they are already competent. On the other hand, Cadets who complete the course but do not gain the qualification can act as a Cadet Assistant Peer Educator, and while they are unable to solely give first aid training, they are able to assist their qualified counterparts when training others.[4][5] This qualification is no longer available due to a withdrawal by the awarding body responsible. The Demonstrator and assessor awards have been brought in to replace this and still offer cadets the chance to learn skills to teach others how to do first aid.


Aside from learning first aid, cadets can take part in a variety of other activities, and support tasks to help out adult members of St John Ambulance. Some of them are listed below:[3]

  • Assisting St John Ambulance adult members whilst providing first aid at events (e.g. football matches, firework displays, local events).
  • Radio communication work.
  • Leading and training groups of Cadets.
  • Competitions such as 'Cadet of the Year'.
  • Fundraising for St John Ambulance and other charities.
  • Completing awards such as the Grand Prior Award and the Duke of Edinburgh's Award.
  • Taking part in Drill and, in some areas, the Remembrance Sunday parade.
  • Socialising at organised recreation events, 'fun nights', camping, youth balls and other away trips.

Cadet Code of Chivalry

Cadets as part of their Membership Award pledge a Code of Chivalry, similar to how Scouts make a Scout Promise when they join. The code originates from the historical origin of St John Ambulance: the Venerable Order of Saint John. Note that whilst serving God is part of the code, Cadets do not need to be Christian or even religious and a secular version is available for those who do not wish to 'serve God' in their oath.



There are a number of awards that Cadets can achieve during their time at St John Ambulance:

  • Membership Award - this is the first award that new members will complete, which involves completion of worksheets and activities about various aspects of St John life. Each unit may run this in other ways.
  • Grand Prior Award Scheme - this is the highest award a cadet can achieve, named after the Grand Prior of The Order of St John. This award scheme involves Cadets completing 24 subjects at different levels (bronze, silver, gold and Grand) This usually takes about 3– 6 years to complete.
  • Service Awards - every time a Cadet completes any volunteering for St John Ambulance, their hours are logged. When a Cadet completes a certain number of hours, they are awarded a badge (after 50 hours, 100 hours, 200 hours, 300 hours etc. to 1000 hours).[1][7]
  • Other awards - a Cadet can also complete the Duke of Edinburgh's Award. St John Ambulance recently recommitted to providing this award for all their cadets who are eligible.

Cadet Roles

In 2017-2018, St John Ambulance reviewed the roles cadet can hold. When the new service delivery uniform (SDU) was introduced, the following role bars were made available for cadets to achieve with training;

  • Cadet Observer
  • Cadet Trainee First Aider
  • Cadet First Aider
  • Cadet Advanced First Aider
  • Cadet Peer Educator
  • Cadet Assistant Peer Educator

Following a review in the middle of 2017, as of 1 January 2018, there are no more Cadet Trainee First Aider courses or Cadet Advanced First Aider courses. Those with these roles still hold their qualifications, but the only two clinical roles Cadets can hold are:

  • Cadet
  • Cadet First Aider

Cadets who already hold a Cadet Advanced First Aider role are permitted to keep this qualification and role bar until they turn 18. When they turn 18 and assuming they complete a transfer course, which introduces medical drugs and medical gases, they can directly transition to an adult Advanced First Aider.

Cadets have to be 13 to complete their Cadet Operational First Aider Course, which allows them to deliver first aid at events. Both Cadets and Cadet First Aiders are trained in the use of AEDs.

Roles of St John Ambulance Cadets
RoleCadet Observer (role discontinued - replaced with "Cadet")Cadet Trainee First Aider (role discontinued)Cadet First Aider
Role Bar

Rank Structure

The ranking structure for Cadets is as follows:[1] Cadets can only attain the title of NCO - Non-commissioned officer

Ranks and Insignia of St John Ambulance Cadets
Officers Cadet Senior NCOs Cadet Junior NCOs Cadets Recruits

St John Ambulance
Cadets ranks and epaulettes
No Insignia
No Equivalent Leading Cadet No Equivalent Cadet Sergeant No Equivalent Cadet Corporal No Equivalent Cadet Recruit
LCdt CdtS CdtC Cdt Rct

To be promoted to the rank of Cadet Corporal or Cadet Sergeant, Cadets must have completed Cadet Leadership 1 training. For promotion to Leading Cadet, completion of Cadet Leadership 2 is essential. Once the leadership course is complete, the Cadets may have an interview with a panel that usually consists of the Unit Manager, Youth Leader, and District Youth Officers. Some panels may also include a young person representative.


  1. St John Ambulance Cadet Handbook
  2. "St John Ambulance Cadet Unit". London Borough of Islington Directory. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  3. St John Ambulance website
  4. Peer Education and Youth First Aid Programmes"", Retrieved 2016-05-29
  5. SJA Connect - private member's site
  6. St John Ambulance - Cadets ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 May 2006. Retrieved 25 November 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)", Retrieved 2011-11-25
  7. St John Supplies: Uniform section "", Retrieved 2016-05-29
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