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Brisbane deacon given rare honour for chaplain service

Award winner: Deacon Peter Devenish-Meares says St John Ambulance Queensland was rising to the many new challenges posed by COVID-19.

DEACON Peter Devenish-Meares has received a rare official honour for his chaplaincy work as an Officer in the Venerable Order of St John.

Only three months ago, Deacon Devenish-Meares was appointed chairman of the board for St John Ambulance Queensland, after serving on the board since 2018.

He is also Mission Australia’s chaplain for Queensland and the Northern Territory, has served as an army chaplain, and is a police chaplain.

Deacon Devenish-Meares said the Order of St John award was “probably for his service over the last eight years as a St John chaplain” working alongside many hundreds of allied health and community staff and volunteers, including nurses, paramedics and doctors.

St John Ambulance roots go far back to med-iaeval times when the knights of St John provided care and shelter to pilgrims and crusaders.

For the past 125 years in Queensland the organisation has worked within the community to save lives with first aid, providing first-aid training, community event support and community outreach services.

St John makes 45,000 calls to isolated and vulnerable Queenslanders each year.

Deacon Devenish-Mears said like most volunteer agencies, St John was rising to the many new challenges posed by COVID-19.

“It’s a new way of doing what I call body, mind and spirit community care,” he said.

“We are trying to expand on what we do.

“When I became chair, I realised that we have to re-engage church and state, and so we unlocked a whole lot of training spaces to help other charities.”

He said organisations such as the Veterans Care Association, headed by Deacon Gary Stone, had many volunteers who would be able to benefit from training resources offered by St John’s.

“He (Deacon Stone) is my mentor and inspiration. He keeps calling people to bring their gifts and to share,” Deacon Devenish-Meares said.

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