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Former Thatcham Rugby Club chairman is Newbury Racecourse Vaccine Centre's first 'Volunteer of the Week'

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Will Sewell was voted for by his fellow volunteers

VACCINE centre volunteers have been guiding people through the system for nearly a month now and the first volunteer of the week, Will Sewell, has been recognised for his contribution to the process.

Mr Sewell, who lives in Thatcham, and is the former chairman of Thatcham Rugby Club, said: “My first reaction was wow! Why me? There are so many amazing volunteers there and they picked me first.”

Mr Sewell, 53, attended one of the early induction sessions at the racecourse in the middle of January and did his first shift a few days later. He was chosen as the first Volunteer of the Week following a vote by his fellow volunteers.

He said: “I can honestly say it is one of the best experiences. Everyone who has come through for their jab has been so gracious and grateful, people saying ‘thank you’ all the time and there are lots of smiles – it really makes you feel good.”

Mr Sewell knows firsthand the effects of Covid, after a friend died recently.

He said: “He was only 50. He had been in hospital for a few weeks, but he couldn’t be saved. It makes me even more determined to do my bit to fight against this virus, and the vaccine is our way out.”

When he is volunteering, Mr Sewell can mostly be seen at the gate – the first friendly face people see – or directing cars in the car park.

“It’s the gratitude that keeps you going,” he added. “We’re happy [the volunteers] because the people coming for their jabs are happy.

“There was a lady screaming and waving at me as she was going to her car the other day and I thought ‘what have I done wrong?’, but she said ‘I just wanted to thank you, it’s all so well run’.”

It has been particularly cold recently, but Mr Sewell says they are well looked after outside.

“Other volunteers bring us hot drinks and snacks to keep us going – it can get freezing – they deserve recognition just as much as anyone as far as I’m concerned.”

Mr Sewell is manager of the clubhouse at Thatcham Rugby Club, which is closed at the moment, and says he really appreciates the positive mental effect of being a volunteer.

He said: “I can go weeks without seeing anybody – just going shopping – and maybe not talking to anyone.

“I’m a bit old-fashioned when it comes to mental health and always think to myself ‘oh just get on with it’, but I can honestly say going to the racecourse has saved me from going loopy.”

He added: “I’m amazed at being picked as first ‘Volunteer of the Week’ – when I was chairman of the rugby club I was handing these sort of awards out, so it’s really exciting to be at the receiving end – especially for something that is such a joy to do."

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