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Thatcham nurse sheds a tear as 94-year-old grandmother receives Covid-19 vaccination

First time that Thatcham Medical Practice nurse has seen her grandmother in BUPA home since March

John Herring

John Herring


01635 886633

Thatcham nurse sheds a tear as grandmother receives Covid-19 vaccination

“HOPE is there, I think that’s the main thing that’s keeping us going.”

A Thatcham nurse had an emotional reunion with her grandmother when she watched her receive her first Covid-19 vaccination recently.

Practice nurse at Thatcham Medical Practice Vanessa Denny shed a tear as 94-year-old Edna Smith received her jab at Thatcham Court nursing home on Thursday, January 14.

There is a close bond between the two, but Mrs Denny has only seen her grandmother once since last March because of the pandemic.

A team from the practice administered the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine to 91 people at the BUPA home, 58 of them residents.

Senior partner at the practice Dr Richard Rudgley vaccinated Mrs Smith as her granddaughter watched.

Mrs Denny, who has been a nurse for 30 years, said: “It was a privilege and a bit emotional that we are doing our bit.”

Asked why she did not administer the vaccine herself, Mrs Denny said: “I didn’t think it was very ethical and when I saw her I ended up shedding a tear and getting quite emotional.

“I took a picture of her and I managed to talk to her and I just watched.

“I managed to touch my hand on her shoulder. 

“She’s got vascular [dementia] and Alzheimer’s, but hearing my voice there was some recognition there.

“I’m sure she recognised my voice.

“I’ve seen her once since March but it’s not the same through Perspex screens and over FaceTime.

“It’s so nice to just go in and vaccinate staff and residents to make them as safe as we possibly can.

“The first time round they had a few cases of coronavirus and she managed to somehow not catch it.

“It’s just a relief to see her face-to-face, she looked really well.

“She’s quite a character, she likes singing and tapping her foot, she’s quite lovely.

“I think they have all got a soft spot for her. 

“I can’t praise the staff there enough, they do an amazing job there.

“I think it was just the relief of the staff in there on Thursday.

“They felt quite euphoric that we had been in.

“They could message the relatives to say we had been in, so a huge relief for the families.”

Mrs Denny said that her grandmother was one of 14 children.

Her parents had 13 children but adopted another as they thought 13 was unlucky.

Mrs Smith has lived at Thatcham Court for four years.

“She’s like my mother figure,” Mrs Denny said. 

“She used to pick me up from school and I was always at her house.

“We have a really close bond.”

Thatcham Medical Practice is one of nine West Berkshire surgeries using Newbury Racecourse as a vaccination hub, which launched on January 14.

Four surgeries in the east of the district have been vaccinating since before Christmas.

Mrs Denny said: “Some other areas have been going in before us.

“It’s a relief that we were able to go in and start our vaccinations in this area.

“Going home and being able to tell my mother that we had given her the vaccine – that was quite a good feeling.”

With the racecourse hub up and running, Mrs Denny said: “To be a part of history, seeing it so well organised and the relief of the people walking in and getting the vaccine.

“Hope is there, I think that’s the main thing that’s keeping us going.

“I’m just so privileged to be a nurse.”

Dr Rudgley said: “I think we all need good stories and for me it was so nice to go with Ness, firstly to give the vaccine to the residents of the care home, which did suffer in the first phase.

“The care home staff were delighted seeing that.

“Many of the residents, even with their memory problems, seemed very happy.

“Seeing Ness meet up with her gran, to see her emotion during this, that was a really emotional day for everybody.

“The feeling that we are starting the vaccine programme, starting the roll-out and feeling that we are at the beginning of something better that’s going to happen locally and the country, and it’s good to be a part of that.

“We are really proud of the set up.

“We might not have been round one but we have set up the biggest vaccination programme in the west of Berkshire.

“It’s a big endeavour and it’s running very smoothly.”

GPs have raised issues with planning clinics because of the supply of the vaccine.

Dr Rudgley said: “We don’t have much control over the supply, it’s done on a push model.

“What you administer you then upload to the Government website, then they know you are using it, then they deliver more.

“We are getting a good delivery and more next week.”

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