The legacy of Sir Hugh Poate lives on at St John

St John Ambulance New South Wales (NSW), has been gifted a portrait of Sir Hugh Poate. The portrait comes from the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, which is disbanding its collection of portraits of past presidents.

Who was Sir Hugh Poate?
Sir Hugh Poate was born on January 16, 1884, and was skilled in orthopaedic, cranial, and thoracic surgery. He was an international authority on thyroid surgery and was the first Australian to introduce medical treatment for hyperthyroidism using drugs.

Sir Hugh joined the St John Ambulance Brigade in 1913 and was New South Wales (NSW) State Commissioner between 1929 and 1942. When an Australian Commandery was formed in 1942, Sir Hugh became its first Knight Commander. In 1947, when the Commandery became the Priory of Australia, Sir Hugh became its initial Sub-Prior and subsequently its Chancellor.

“Under his direction, St John rose to national prominence as a voluntary agency specialising in health care and training. In 1955, he became the first Australian to be promoted to bailiff grand cross.”

Ian Howie-Willis, Independent Professional Historian

Sir Hugh was appointed a Knight of Grace of The Order of St John in 1935, became a Member of the Royal Victorian Order in 1947, and was knighted in 1952.

His portrait was painted at the end of his tenure as RACS President and shows him wearing his KStJ neck badge and MVO and KStJ miniatures. The picture was painted by Sir William Dargie, and the official listing of the work can be found at the Art Gallery of NSW.