Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire unveils plaque comemmorating Newbury Racecourse vaccination centre which ran during Covid pandemic
More than 100 volunteers and NHS staff visited Newbury Racecourse on Friday (July 15) to see the unveiling of a plaque dedicated to their efforts during the height of the Covid pandemic.
Just over a year since the final Covid vaccination was administered at the Vaccination Centre at Newbury Racecourse, representatives from the nine surgeries involved and some of the 400 volunteers gathered to take part in a special ceremony to unveil the plaque as a permanent reminder of the community efforts that went into the delivery of more than 66,500 vaccinations to patients across West Berkshire and North Hampshire during the pandemic.
Before unveiling the plaque the Lord Lieutenant of the Royal County of Berkshire, James Puxley, recalled the visit he had made to the centre when it was fully operational and how impressed he was at the efficiency of the large-scale initiative.
Mr Puxley said: "It is wonderful that what happened is being recorded on a plaque."
Speaking on behalf of the NHS, Dr Ellora Evans, one of the three clinical leads at the vaccination centre, said: "None of this would have been possible without the amazing volunteers and hard work and dedication of NHS staff.
"We should be very proud of what we have achieved and the plaque is testament to that."
The community effort was coordinated by Beverley Sunderland and Jonathan Cross and following the unveiling Mr Cross said: "When we think back now to that very first vaccination clinic in the middle of January 2021, we should remember that it took place at the very darkest moment of the second wave of the pandemic, when deaths were about to peak at more than 1,200 a day.
"When that first small group of volunteers arrived at Newbury Racecourse, none of them knew quite what the future would hold. On that very first day, we didn’t even know if there would be a delivery of vaccine.
"But as the rollout gathered momentum, dozens and then hundreds of volunteers came forward to help.
"We can smile about it now. But let’s not forget – you risked your health, you risked your lives to save the lives of others, and there is nothing more noble than that. It is something that you should all be immensely proud of."
As an extra surprise, the racecourse renamed the last race of the afternoon 'The Thank You Newbury Vaccination Volunteers Apprentice Handicap Stakes', which was won by Morgan Fairy ridden by Hollie Doyle.