A CANCER patient’s family have praised St John Ambulance for going ‘above and beyond the call of duty’ to bring the 68-year-old sick man home for hospital treatment.
Graham Caplin moved to a cottage in the remote Bulgarian countryside after retiring in 2008 but was diagnosed with lung cancer shortly after.
As his health deteriorated, he and his wife Heather decided it was time to return home but were concerned about the journey.
St John Ambulance Suffolk launched an operation to bring Graham and Heather home after a family member contacted it for help.
The charity organised the couple’s journey and flew a volunteer out to Bulgaria with medical equipment to accompany Graham – known as Hap to family and friends – home to the UK.
St John Ambulance then met the couple at the plane and took him home by ambulance.
The couple decided to leave Bulgaria after struggling with three-hour drives to a Bulgarian hospital where few of the staff spoke English.
They are now staying with family in Stowmarket and Graham’s health is improving.
His sister-in-law, who originally contacted St John Ambulance for help, said: “I cannot thank St John Ambulance enough for helping us to get Hap back to the UK.
“The long journey back to Suffolk was very daunting for Hap because of his difficulty breathing, but the St John Ambulance crew was very friendly and extremely considerate and mindful of Hap’s needs.
“The St John Ambulance crew went above and beyond the call of duty and I would definitely recommend them to anybody with patient transport needs.”
Keith Hodgekiss, St John Ambulance Suffolk operations manager, said: “We operate a commercial ambulance service to support our charitable work so, as part of that, we like to think we make a difference in people’s lives and in this case that has clearly been demonstrated.
“We firmly believe that people put their trust in us to give the highest level of care and we feel we delivered that here.”
n St John Ambulance is one of the country’s leading first aid charities and its 40,000 volunteers provide care to people across the country.
For more information on what St John Ambulance does, go to www.sja.org.uk