As St John Scotland celebrates its 75th anniversary, this is the perfect time to reflect on how this organisation came into being, the work that is has done and that it continues to do, and the amazing people who made it all possible. Explored through archival research and oral testimony, this oral history project brings to life the personal experiences of St John Scotland’s members and volunteers who have worked tirelessly to improve lives since 1947.

Over thirty people shared their memories with us and in so doing have generated an impressive oral history archive exploring the organisation’s rich history of service. Respondents talk about their involvement in fundraising activities, and recall the many ways that St John Scotland has sought to improve lives, from opening hospitals, care homes and hospices, to supporting local charities and Scottish Mountain Rescue, to delivering St John Scotland’s own volunteer-led services such as CPR training and Patient Transport. Understated selflessness and a passion for helping others is evident throughout the testimonies, which tells its own story about the generous and determined nature of our volunteers.

Respondents also share their happiest memories of working with St John Scotland and their hopes for its future. What becomes clear from these testimonies is that St John Scotland and its volunteers are exceptionally well-placed to continue to serve the people of Scotland and beyond, and are ready to take on the challenges of the next 75 years.


When the Priory of Scotland of the Order of St John was established in 1947, its founding members were committed to providing services that would make a real difference to people in Scotland. Seventy-five years on, St John Scotland continues to fulfil that aim, with our volunteers across the country serving their communities, improving health and saving lives.

Commissioned to celebrate our 75th anniversary, this project brings to life the history of our charitable work through the voices of the people at the heart of St John Scotland – our members and volunteers. I am very grateful to everyone who contributed to this project, so that we could capture where we are now, how we got here, and create this record as a legacy for the future.

If, reading this, you are already involved with St John Scotland, I hope you enjoy learning more about our history and some of the people who – like you – have played their part over the years.

And if you’re not involved with us – yet – I hope this inspires you to become part of the St John Scotland family. In doing so you’ll be joining an organisation with a proud history, and a bright future.

Eleanor Argyll
Chair, St John Scotland and Prior, Priory of Scotland of the Order of St John


Researched and written by Dr Sue Morrison, Oral History Research & Training Consultancy, with research assistance from Kayleigh Hirst, St John Scotland, this project is indebted to the work of Charles Burnett KStJ and the late Henry Tilling KStJ, whose 1997 history of the Order of St John in Scotland forms the backbone of our understanding of the organisation’s founding and its work.

Sincere thanks to everyone who shared their memories with us:

Margaret Balfour
John Blair
Ann Calderwood
Pat Calvert
Carol Campbell
Gordon Casely
Ian Clarke
Lynn Cleal
Alex Craib
Mario Di Maio
Douglas Dow
John Ford
Gwen Fullerton
Kirsty Fullerton
Brian Gibson
Mary Gilmour
Liz Hamilton
Bill Harvey
Grenville Johnston
Katharine Liston
Sheena MacBride
Stuart MacBride
Catherine McIsaac
Sandy Middleton
Anne Mitchell
Kev Mitchell
Charles Munro
Diana Orr Ewing
Kenneth Paterson
Lawson Rennie
Andrew Smith
Iain Smith
Keith Stirling
David Waddell
Charlotte Waddell
Ian Wallace
Richard Waller
Willie Waterson

As well as the people who contributed to this project, this work also acknowledges and thanks every past and present Member and Volunteer of St John Scotland for the work you do and the difference you have made. Thank you.