A TEENAGE life-saver has put the region on the map after being selected as national cadet of the year by St John Ambulance.

Rebecca Cruxton, a sixth former at Emmanuel College, Gateshead, was chosen from hundreds of candidates and is believed to be among the first cadet from the north to be chosen for the prestigious position.

The 17-year-old, of Whickham, has already mixed with royalty in her national role, acting as a host for the organisation’s Commandant-in-Chief The Princess Royal.

She has also addressed a congregation of thousands in St Paul’s Cathedral in London and has a packed diary of events to attend over the next year.

Rebecca has been an active member of St John Ambulance for the past eight years.

When she was just ten she and her fellow member Amy Blackburn helped a man with a suspected fractured skull who they came across on the way to a St John meeting.

“He had a really bad head injury with fluid coming out of his ears and lots of blood,” recalled Rebecca, who wants to be a police officer.

“Amy put compression on the wound and I put him into the recovery position until help arrived. We were only young but knew we had to help.”

Her role for the next year will be to represent youth at a host of St John Ambulance events.

Rebecca secured a place on a 40-strong shortlist for the district element of the competition at which she had to demonstrate to a panel of judges a variety of skills ranging from first aid to etiquette.

After winning that she was then interviewed at Leicester University, eventually being selected as the overall winner.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Rebecca, who is studying electronics and engineering. “I thought my regional accent might count against me as everyone else seemed so posh.”

Rebecca helped to host The Princess Royal at Cherrygarth cadet camp near Hull. “I had to lead her around and present her with a photograph,” she said. “I’ll meet her again at the palace at the Young Achievers Awards in October.”

Rebecca will also be assisting to host the organisation’s Grand Prior reception next year and is working towards her Sovereign’s Award, which is only presented to ten cadets a year by the Queen.

“I feel so passionately about St John Ambulance because everyone can make a big difference between a life lost and a life saved,” she said. “I really wanted to be national cadet because I want to be able to promote that essential message.”

Emmanuel College principal Jonathan Winch said: “Rebecca’s commitment and dedication to such a well-respected organisation is admirable and she embodies the ethos of the college in giving her time to help others.

“Her diary for the next year is packed with events and yet she still manages to concentrate on her studies which is also commendable.”

Rebecca is currently trying to raise sponsorship money for a three-week trip to Australia in January for an International Youth Camp in Sydney and is planning to take part in a Boxing Day dip in the sea at Sunderland to raise funds.