Newbury Vaccination Centre's volunteers of the week stay calm on busiest day, when 1,600 patients receive their jab
Ed Tryon and Helen Miller keep things running smoothly
AS the number of vaccines administered in a day at the Newbury Racecourse Vaccination Centre increases, volunteers have continued to cope with the extra pressure.
This week’s two volunteers of the week, Ed Tryon and Helen Miller, were chosen because on one particularly challenging day, they stepped up to the plate, alongside the other volunteers on duty.
Last Thursday was the first day the centre was planning on giving out 1,600 jabs in a day, up 300 from the usual number.
The day started like any other, but a sequence of events, including “a few technical issues”, soon created a backlog of people waiting for their vaccine.
Car park lead on the day Mr Tryon said: “I’m a bit embarrassed to be given this award frankly. It should go to the earlier team.
“I came in on the middle shift when we were at peak capacity and they had been dealing with the situation admirably. It got easier for me as the afternoon went on.
“But we also had the perfect storm outside – there was a cherry picker putting up a flag and a crane in the parking area which added to the fun.”
It was Mr Tryon’s first shift as a lead volunteer and he was more than up for the challenge.
Mr Tryon, who lives in Brightwalton, has been volunteering along with his wife Nina since the vaccination centre opened. The couple both had Covid themselves in spring last year and wanted to give something back, having recovered from the virus.
Mr Tryon said: “I am so grateful to have the opportunity to do this. It really puts all life’s other little troubles into perspective.
“The vaccination programme is such a good news story for the country at a time when we are dealing with multiple headwinds of negativity.
“It’s nice to have a positive national effort and a sense of fellowship which is to be embraced.”
On ‘that Thursday’ while Mr Tryon was dealing with car park issues outside, Helen Miller (above) was on duty inside the building.
She is very often to be found at the desks checking people in to their surgery and she also occasionally sits with the medical practitioners administering the vaccine, to log in the patients.
She said: “When my shift came to an end, a couple of the volunteers who were taking over were quite new and not familiar with the system, so I stayed on and helped them a bit.
“I can’t imagine why I was picked as Volunteer of the Week, but it’s very nice.
“I was there again on Friday and noticed that the queue for waiting for the vaccines was not flowing as smoothly as it could so I stood at the front and directed people to the next volunteers and also made sure that the patients all moved forward to make room for more people.”
Mrs Miller, who comes from Ayr, Scotland, but has lived in Cold Ash for more than 20 years, added: “This is our home now, but my husband and I have not been able to visit our elderly parents in Scotland since August last year and so getting these vaccines done will hopefully enable us to travel up to see them.”
Mrs Miller is a self-employed organisational psychologist and decided to join as a volunteer as she could fit it around her work.
“I have time available and it is such a good cause,” she said. “I’ve done a lot of the roles in the centre and what really stays with me is that it is a lot of laughs.
“All the volunteers are so positive and upbeat and we have a great time.”
Mrs Miller, whose three children are based in London, said she is now looking forward to travel restrictions lifting so she and her husband can take the long-awaited trip to Scotland and see their relatives.