“I had the privilege of attending the Grand Council event in New Zealand” – Jessa Gardner

We are delighted to have Jessa Gardner, New Zealand representative for our International Youth Advisory Network, tell us about her time at Grand Council:

Kia ora,

Throughout the 12-15th September 2023, I had the privilege of attending the Grand Council event in Queenstown as the New Zealand Representative on the International Youth Advisory Network.

“What an incredible week it was! Throughout the week, we had the opportunity to discuss common themes across the Priories and Associations, and it was a great opportunity to learn more from each other.”

Throughout the Grand Council meeting, I was asked questions and opinions on topics relating to the Order, the future of St John, and the achievements and challenges of the work we do worldwide. I conducted an interview with the new Chancellor, Thomas Budd, and facilitated a session with Jenny Wilcox (Chief of Staff) on the International Youth Advisory Network (IYAN) over the past year.

I was also involved in the activities after the meetings, and New Zealand hosted an amazing week showcasing St John New Zealand, and the beautiful New Zealand environment.

Grand Council Event

I took many key reflections from the Grand Council, and I wanted to share my top three with you today.

  1. The members of the Grand Council are extremely supportive of enhancing the voice of young people and women and are actively working to ensure this is reflected actively within their work.
  2. Some of the most important conversations happen outside of the standard ‘meeting environment’, and I had so many insightful conversations with people over a good tea and some yummy morning tea!
  3. Often, it is not until you are in the same room with someone from another Priory or Association, that you hear about the amazing programmes and initiatives within their respective areas. I look forward to working alongside IYAN to have more of these conversations and to work to share these stories more throughout the year, even when we are not face-to-face!

I think it is fair to say that after the week, I was positively overwhelmed with exciting and interesting information, which I am still spending time reflecting on and enjoying the opportunity to apply to the work I am doing now and going forward.

Jessa Gardner

St John International Youth Advisory Network – New Zealand representative