For 2022 Senior Australian of the Year Val Dempsey. meeting Queen Elizabeth II was "just the most extraordinary and magical time".
Ms Dempsey, a St John Ambulance volunteer for more than five decades, told the Queen about her campaign for compulsory first aid training for learner drivers during a virtual session to celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee.
"And her response was 'well, it really is so important for people to be able to learn first aid', and I don't believe that I could have had a higher endorsement," Ms Dempsey said.
The St John volunteer of more than five decades became passionate about first aid after a personal tragedy.
Ms Dempsey's then 17-year-old daughter was in a fatal car accident while driving with three friends.
None of the people who tried to help after the incident had first aid training.
"I can't imagine how they must have felt in walking away from that moment," she said.
Ms Dempsey has travelled around Australia advocating for first aid training since accepting her award.
"[I] see all of the people out there that work day by day, in their everyday lives, to make the life of somebody else that little bit better," she said. "That little bit of kindness that goes around, and it does come around."
She has also had the chance to influence politicians and business leaders.
"I have yet to meet anybody who is absolutely against the idea of people learning first aid. And not just by everyday people in the street, but by the highest authorities."
Through St Johns, she has launched a free online first aid driver awareness course for young people. The 72-year-old recently presented to 900 mayors and councillors about first aid, encouraging them to incorporate it locally.
Ms Dempsey encouraged Australians to nominate someone for the 2023 Australian of the Year Awards.
"Look toward your neighbour, look toward that person who stands out in the crowd, look toward that person in your community, in your workplace ... seeing them in their greatness," she said. "When you start looking, you'll be so surprised as to how many people that you love."
Help find the 2023 Australian of the Year, Senior Australian of the Year, Young Australian of the Year and Australia's Local Hero by nominating someone you admire.
Visit australianoftheyear.org.au before July 31
I am a trainee at The Canberra Times. I currently cover breaking news, as well as an assortment of other random topics. I previously worked in digital news. Email tips or cute dog videos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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