St John Archive, Volunteering

An update on the Archives Revealed cataloguing project: meet the Project Delivery Team!

Museum of the Order of St John Sophie Denman (Archivist)

Back in August, the Museum announced that it had won an externally-funded £35k Archives Revealed grant from The National Archives, Pilgrim Trust, and The Wolfson Foundation to catalogue the early records relating to the St John Ambulance Association and St John Ambulance Brigade. We’re now over a month into the project and it’s time to introduce you to the Project Delivery Team!

This is a colour photograph of four people (three women and one man) smiling and looking towards the camera. Behind the people is a metal shelving unit filled with books and boxes. The people are dressed in their own clothes, and each wears a name badge.
The Project Delivery Team for the Archives Revealed cataloguing project: Sophie Denman (Archivist), Joyce Guillaume (Project Volunteer), Pat Halpin (Project Volunteer), Annie Lord (Project Cataloguer).

Sophie Denman (Archivist)

Sophie joined the Museum team in February 2022 as the Archivist for St John Ambulance and the Order of St John. She is responsible for the overall strategy and management of the Archive, which is the central repository for St John’s archival collections (paper-based collections, film and photographic material, and digital records).

Sophie began her archival career in 2012, when she started volunteering at the University of Northampton’s archive. In 2013, she began working as an Archive Assistant at the National Motor Museum. A professional archivist is usually required to have a postgraduate degree in an archival subject, so Sophie went back to university to complete her undergraduate degree in History from the University of Northampton from 2014-2016, to enable her to obtain her postgraduate degree in Archives & Records Management from University College London from 2016-2018. During these years, Sophie continued volunteering at the University of Northampton Archive, and also worked at the Royal London Hospital Archive, and the Marx Memorial Library. In 2017, she became the Assistant Archivist at Harrods, where she worked part time until graduating from her postgraduate degree and becoming professional qualified, upon which time she became a full-time Archive Executive there and stayed at Harrods for a little under five years.

“Joining St John is one of the best things I have done, and I love that I get to be the Archivist for an organisation with such an important and interesting history. I’m even more delighted that we won the Archives Revealed grant and are able to work on the important founding records for our organisation and unlock the stories and information that the collections hold” (Sophie Denman).

This is a head and shoulders colour photograph of a woman looking towards the camera. She is blonde, and is wearing a bright yellow woolly jumper with light pink horizontal stripes, and a black lanyard with gold stars.
Sophie Denman, Archivist at the Museum of the Order of St John.

Annie Lord (Project Cataloguer)

Annie Lord joined the Museum team at the end of October as the Project Cataloguer for the Archives Revealed project. Her role will involve listing, arranging, cataloguing, and promoting the founding records of the St John Ambulance Association and St John Ambulance Brigade.

Annie qualified as a professional archivist in 2019 after completing a postgraduate degree in Archives and Records Management from the University of Liverpool; prior to this she completed an undergraduate degree in History at the University of Sussex. Annie gained her first role as an archivist in 2020 at the Mulberry Bush Charity where she completed a Wellcome Trust-funded project to catalogue the personal papers of Harold Bridger, a social scientist and psychoanalyst. After this project ended, she moved on to work at Wellcome Collection where she completed a cataloguing project to process the papers of the Kennedy Trust for Rheumatology Research. Annie is continuing her role at Wellcome Collection one day a week alongside her role at The Museum of the Order of St John.

Fun fact: when Annie isn’t working as an archivist, she enjoys watching episodes of the Real Housewives franchise, reading historic fiction, and long walks that end in a pub trip!

“I am very excited to be involved in this Archives Revealed project to catalogue such an important and interesting collection. I am especially looking forward to connecting to people with lived experience of volunteering with SJA and connecting them to the amazing history of the organisation” (Annie Lord).

This is a colour photograph of a woman from the waist up, waving and looking towards the camera. She has brown shoulder-length hair and is wearing a flowy blue and white top. She is standing in front of a rack of grey metal shelving which is full of brown cardboard boxes.
Annie Lord, Project Cataloguer for the Archives Revealed cataloguing project.

Joyce Guillaume (Project Volunteer)

Joyce joined the Museum team in November as one of the two Project Volunteers for the Archives Revealed cataloguing Project. Her role involves listing, repackaging, and assessing the collection records, identifying records which might need some additional conservation work, and contributing her organisational knowledge to help us to understand the people, organisational procedures and terminology, events, and themes within the collection.

Joyce joined the St John Ambulance Brixton Division as a Nursing Cadet in the 1970s, where she had opportunities to attend a huge variety of duties and gain first aid experience: “in one week I could be helping to cover a night club in Brixton, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, and a London theatre show”. In addition to first aid duties Joyce also enjoyed working towards her Grand Prior Badge as a Cadet. A particularly memorable activity was caving “where I’m sure I remember we were told how to knock someone out if they panic in an underground tunnel – apparently you swell if you panic and can get stuck in narrow passageways”. For many years, Joyce continued as an adult member of the Brixton Division and was very proud to be awarded her Service Medal. She continued with local and national duties until the 1990s, and even had a few weeks on the south of France as a St John First Aider at a holiday park in Perpignan.

After taking a break from St John, Joyce re-joined St John in 2020 and became a Volunteer Vaccinator during the COVID pandemic in early 2021: “this was a very emotional experience, particularly in the early months. For some of the older members of the public the vaccination programme offered great hope for their future and they were very appreciative of the work of St John. Incredibly, I ended up being in the vaccination programme for over two years working in hospitals, community centres, doctor practices and pharmacies”. Having got involved with St John again, Joyce trained as an Operational First Aider in the Dulwich All Services Unit, and one of her first duties was the London Marathon: “this gave me a chance for some reminiscences, as I attended the very first London Marathon as a Cadet in 1981”. Joyce has also trained to become a Community Advocate, providing short, non-assessed first aid awareness sessions free of charge to local community groups.

This is a head and shoulders portrait colour photograph of a woman with dark brown hair and dark eyes looking towards the camera and smiling.
Joyce Guillaume, a Project Volunteer for the Archives Revealed cataloguing project.
This is a black and white photograph. It shows a smiling young woman in a calf-length light coloured uniform dress standing to the left of a taller man in a dark uniform suit. They are inside a building with windows behind them.
Project Volunteer Joyce Guillaume as an adult Nursing member of the Brixton Division in the late 1980s with Carl Smart, Divisional Superintendent.

Pat Halpin (Project Volunteer)

Pat joined the Museum team in November as one of the two Project Volunteers for the Archives Revealed cataloguing Project. Alongside Joyce, his role involves listing, repackaging, and assessing the collection records, identifying records which might need some additional conservation work, and contributing his organisational knowledge to help us to understand the people, organisational procedures and terminology, events, and themes within the collection.

Pat joined the St John Ambulance Paddington Division in 1972 as an Ambulance Cadet and then an adult Ambulance member in 1976. Since then, Pat has been heavily involved in the organisation as his passions were ambulance work, competitions, and events. Pat’s regular duties included central London events, including Chelsea and Queens Park Rangers football matches, and in 1989, he was part of the first aid team from Paddington that won the National Competitions at Croydon. Pat became Deputy Assistant Commissioner for London District in 2006, responsible for all training. In 2010, he was promoted to Assistant Commissioner (Member Support), responsible for record keeping and training, and during this time he pioneered the Pathway Unit and helped recruit and train over 1,000 volunteers event delivery at the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

In 2012, Pat moved to a role as Area Manager for the Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Westminster Boroughs. In 2021, Pat moved into the Events team as the District Event Lead for Ceremonial Events, looking at first aid provision for some special activities and venues; he was a central part of the delivery of first aid for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II and was awarded the British Empire Medal in 2023. Pat is currently a member of Priory Chapter and represents operations for London and the South East Regions and is a Commander of the Order of St. John.

This is a colour photograph of a man from the chest up, smiling and looking towards the camera. He has short grey hair, and is wearing a white shirt with a black tie and a black coat. A view of London is in the background, with the Shard building in sight.
Pat Halpin, a Project Volunteer for the Archives Revealed cataloguing project.
This is a colour photograph of four men looking towards the camera. They are wearing black uniform suits with white shirts, black ties, and black caps. Between them they are holding a large wooden shield with 30 small silver plaques on it, and a smaller wood and gold plated shield.
Project Volunteer Pat Halpin (second left) as an adult Ambulance member of the Paddington Ambulance Division c.late 1970s – early 1980s, with fellow Ambulance members Larry, Paul, and Len.

The Museum will be running an inclusive and accessible programme of events throughout the duration of the project to share new discoveries and invite new perspectives. Members of the Museum team will be giving monthly 10-minute talks in the Museum galleries and our Learning & Engagement team have planned some fantastic family activities for 2024, all of which are designed around themes within this early collection. Details of the talks and family activities will be released later in the year in our What’s On Guide and on our What’s On page.