Matthew Thomas

Joined 1968

Shaftesbury Quadrilateral Division, Newport, Wales

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Black and white photograph showing three young white boys posing for a photo in front of dark patterned curtains all smiling at the camera. The boys ascend in height and all are wearing matching uniforms consisting of black berets, white shirts, black ties with a small round badge in the centre, black trousers and a black brassard with white circle on it surrounded by white writing and a red cross in the centre.
Matthew Thomas (centre) and his two older brothers wearing British Red Cross uniforms, 1960s
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There was a road traffic accident outside my father’s factory. In – my next brother up and I were playing football, waiting for him to finish work so he could take us home, and a cyclist was knocked off his bike outside the park and we went across. My brother was also a First Aider, obviously, but not with St John. We went out, we looked to do what we could and one of the other passers-by shouted, “Oh, look, there’s his kidneys.” At which everybody sort of stepped back thinking he’s got a huge tear in his side. But actually, he’d been shopping and he’d been to the butchers and the paper wrapping had come undone. And that’s what it was. He, himself, was virtually unharmed.

I remember going to the cinema and it was a particular film with a shocking scene in it. Very much suitable for Cadets, but there was a shocking scene and I never saw the whole film. I went to see that film about ten times as a Cadet but never got past that shocking scene, because people – adults would come out feeling ill and we’d have to treat them. So we’d have to leave the cinema itself to treat them in the treatment room.

Excerpt courtesy of Matthew Thomas