Coronavirus: The vaccine volunteers helping the North West protect themselves against Covid-19

  • Report by Granada Reports correspondent Tim Scott

People across the North West have stepped up to volunteer in large numbers to help support medics at the regions's Covid-19 vaccine centres.

It comes as more than five million jabs have been given out across the North West - meaning more than half of those living in the region have had at least one dose.

Volunteers have come from all walks of life and backgrounds, and many professionals have come out of retirement, or returned to their old jobs to keep the programme on course.

Former GP Mark and wife Angela, an Occupational Health Nurse, both came out of retirement to volunteer alongside Helen, a practising GP.

In Fallowfield at a University of Manchester building turned vaccination centre, the Ashworth family have been hard at work.

Former GP Mark and his wife Angela, an Occupational Health Nurse, both came out of retirement to work alongside Mark's daughter Helen, a practising GP.

Mark says: "It was the least we could do because at the end of the day we're both retired and we can come in and do a couple of half days a week and help out with the weekly vaccinations and help the running of it."

But despite initial excitement at handing out vaccines, the work has also taken its toll on those responsible for administering them.

Dr Helen Ashworth says: "It's been exhausting, I think at the outset there was a lot of excitement, it felt like we were doing something really, really positive to get out of the situation.

"Unfortunately as time has gone on it has become extremely exhausting because it's relentless."

Kurt Starkie is a guitarist for Indie Band The Slow Readers Club but returned to help run the Fallowfield vaccine centre.

Operations manager Kurt Starkie has been keeping the centre running behind the scenes.

But his usual occupation, of guitarist in indie band The Slow Readers Club, could not be more different.

With band activities curtailed during lockdown, he used his previous experience as a GP practice manager to get the job at the vaccination centre.

Kurt says it has been very different than what he's used to.

He said: "To go from that to full on, full time work running a Covid clinic is quite big.

"It's a challenging role anyway, a lot of hours, obviously loads of volunteers, loads of people working really hard, you didn't know what day you were going to work, it's seven day service and it's been like that since the start of December."

Just a day after retiring Dave Alwyn was back at work volunteering in the vaccine centre in St Helens.

In St Helens Dave Anwyl, who worked 43 years for the NHS, came out of retirement to become a volunteer vaccinator.

He says every hour he spends at the clinic fills him with pride.

Dave retired on 31 March 2021, but was back at work at the centre the very next day.

He is just one of 90 people needed to keep the mass vaccination hub at the Totally Wicked Stadium in St Helens open and efficient.

Volunteers from vaccinators, to cleaners, to queue marshals, work to ensure the centre stays operational 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

The success of the vaccination programme would not have been possible without the help and hard work of the volunteers, and many are hopeful, that in years to come when the pandemic is hopefully behind us, their dedication and selflessness will not be forgotten.

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