A WOMAN who has devoted her life to the Red Cross is hoping to realise her dream of seeing first aid taught in schools.
Malvern resident Hilda Forsyth has already approached two schools in the town about taking up the idea and believes children from as young as four could pick up the life-saving skills.
She first joined the Broadheath branch of the Red Cross in 1942 at the age of 12, and had passed her first senior exam at 16.
Her very first case was a miscarriage and for two years Hilda volunteered on ambulances in Worcester on her one day off from work, doing shifts from 1pm to as late as midnight.
At 18 she was made a cadet officer responsible for teaching first aid to 11 to 16 years olds.
Hilda told the Observer: “You see children as young as four or five ringing 999 in an emergency, they know what to do. You are never too young to learn.
“First Aid should be taught as a norm in all schools, no matter what age. From my experience it is amazing how much children absorb.
“I have had children as young as nine surprise doctors with their knowledge of human anatomy and first aid treatment.”
Hilda recalled having to limit the number of people taking up the classes when she was teaching due to the overwhelming popularity with around 40 attending per meeting, which she said was a very ‘different story’ to the interest in first aid courses today.
However she believes the skills would be a natural extension of what school pupils already learn in biology and physical education theory lessons.
Hilda has taken up many responsibilities through the years at the Broadheath branch, becoming group secretary and centre organiser in the late 60s.
In all she has clocked up more than 17,000 hours of service on record and even provided talks at international Red Cross conventions.
In 1973 Hilda was awarded the Badge of Honour for Devoted Service and Life Membership – the highest accolade within the charity.
She was even manager at the former Red Cross shop in Malvern Link before retiring in 1998.
Over the decades her experiences have reinforced the value of first aid.
“I learned at a very early age it is important not only to deal with an accident after the event, but also to anticipate possible danger and prevent more serious problems.
“Now I want to raise awareness and promote the idea of having first aid in all schools, which has always been my dream.”