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Volunteer boost for Hungerford booster clinic

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New bookings for the pop-up Covid booster vaccine clinic at Hungerford Cricket Club have been suspended.

Walk-ins are still being encouraged – and pre-existing bookings are being honoured.

Volunteer numbers have been doubled at the West Berkshire site following the huge numbers of people turning up on spec yesterday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s statement on Sunday pushing forward vaccinations and boosters prompted a surge in demand for jabs in the district.

There are nine volunteers on three shifts per day – and all seem to be enjoying the ‘Dunkirk spirit’ of it all, even dressing up in festive Christmas hats.

Queues as long as four hours were reported yesterday (Monday) at Hungerford, with people coming from as far afield as Cornwall, Bristol and Bath.

Queues and volunteers at Hungerford booster centre (53713326)
Queues and volunteers at Hungerford booster centre (53713326)

Demand has dropped today at the site, where one volunteer joked that “there are more volunteers than people queuing today!”.

“It was crazy yesterday,” said car parking volunteer Alan Walker. “But it has been wonderful. People are very forbearing. When we turn people away they have been really understanding. Frustrated, but not angry.”

Chris Vaughan put his hand up a fortnight ago to help out.

Chris Vaughan, Diane Mackey and Alan Walker (53713250)
Chris Vaughan, Diane Mackey and Alan Walker (53713250)

“Clearly the announcement by Boris got people a bit stirred up,” he said. “We had very long queues and were having to turn people away, but it has all been good natured.”

Queue times at the Hungerford site are down to 30 minutes, and new supplies of antigen tests are being handed out to the freshly jabbed as they wait in a newly erected recovery tent.

Paula Dart (53713066)
Paula Dart (53713066)

Paula Dart was on her first shift, and got the half day off to help out in Hungerford’s hour of need from her boss at software company Sauce in Newbury.

“It is my first slot,” she said. “My boss gave me the morning off. But we don’t seem to have a queue today. I am pleased to be able to help though.”

Jane Hearn, Rosemary David and Sean Crow were checking in people arriving with appointments as well as those turning up for walk ins.

“I was rather hoping for a bit of crowd control work,” joked Sean, just on his first shift since the weekend chaos.

Diane Mackey has been redeployed from the Kennet Shopping centre in Newbury, which also reported being inundated with people yesterday.

She said: “The Kennet Centre has been very busy, but we have more facilities now. But we are getting through a lot of people.”

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