Leighton Buzzard vaccination volunteers thanked for helping to save lives

Barbecue celebration for those who helped out at town's rugby club in fight against Covid-19

Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 10:29 am
Updated Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 10:30 am

A special barbecue was held on Friday to celebrate the many dedicated Leighton Buzzard volunteers who helped support the vaccination programme at the town’s rugby club during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The team enjoyed food, drinks and a catch up to reflect on their time at the sports venue which had served as the vaccination centre during the town’s hour of need.

The ‘thank you barbecue’ was a great way for the volunteers to mark the end of an era, and serve as a reminder of what can be achieved when working together.

Friday's thank you event

June Tobin, who was lead volunteer co-ordinator at the Rugby Club vaccination centre, said: “I just want to say thank you for some wonderful shifts that created such camaraderie. We laughed so much it was amazing, even when stood in sleet and snow and two degrees.

“For the first few months we were all in heavy winter clothes and masks and hats, so when the summer months came and the layers came off, we didn’t recognise each other!

“It was great fun and lasting friendships have been formed.”

Some of the volunteers worked at the centre from its opening date on January 14 right up until its closure in mid June.

Friday's thank you event

There were around 300 volunteers at its peak, with three shifts a day and ten people on each shift.

A total of 28,890 jabs were administered, and some volunteers were even trained as admin assistants and vaccinators.

June said: “The Leighton Buzzard Primary Care Network (PCN) were fabulous and got us a marquee with heaters, and also made sure that traffic calming measures were in place on Stanbridge Road.

“Thank you to the committee at the rugby club, to Dave and Ruth Pearson, who were fabulous and couldn’t do enough.

“And thank you to the PCN operations manager, Stephen King. He’s an absolute legend and was the glue that kept us together.”

June is a member of BLEVEC, which offered its services to the PCN to help alleviate the burden of logistics.

She would also like to say a special thank you to the kind lady who brought the volunteers fresh cakes and scones every day, and to the town’s supermarkets, which supplied the team with drinks and snacks.

Encouraging others to have the vaccination if they have not yet done so, June added: “I grew up at the end of the 1950s when polio was rife and young people’s lives were being blighted.

“We developed a vaccine and we eradicated polio in this country along with diphtheria and a few other nasty diseases. But there are poorer countries like Africa that haven’t.

“I know at least 20 people that have died from the [Covid-19] virus, while others I know have been left with long term complications - its caused blindness, another friend is deaf, and another is completely and utterly unable to function properly.

“My advice is trust the science, because a lot of building blocks went into this.

“I’m double vaccinated. I had Covid-19 recently and was ill for seven days - but I dread to think what the symptoms would have been like if I hadn’t had the vaccination.”

June told the LBO that Leighton Buzzard has been showcased for its mobilisation of volunteers, describing the PCN as being “swamped” with offers to volunteer in January.

She added: “I think we should be proud of that.”

A spokesman for Leighton Buzzard Primary Care Network said of Friday’s event: “The PCN celebrated with the volunteers their success in saving patients' lives in the Leighton Buzzard community, as board member Louise Cole gave a speech on how grateful the community was of their help during tough weather conditions and long shift to ensure all patients got a vaccine.

“The volunteers and PCN have agreed to work closely again the future to help design future healthcare services for the Leighton Buzzard community.”