Former Royal Marine awarded for dedicating time to Plymouth testing and vaccine centres

Roy Warnes receiving his commendation
Roy Warnes was presented his award at South Brent Health Centre.

A former Royal Marine has been recognised by the military and the NHS for his dedication to volunteering at coronavirus testing and vaccination centres.

Roy Warnes was at the South Brent testing facility in Plymouth on the day it opened and has become an expert at informing the public as well as putting them at ease.

As a result of his efforts he was awarded with a commendation during a small ceremony at South Brent Health Centre.

Roy joined the Royal Marines in 1956, following in his father, grandfather and great grandfather’s footsteps.

He recalls his dad accompanying him to the Royal Marines recruitment office as a young man, where he joined as a Lance Corporal and was drafted to Poole.

Roy has been volunteering at the centre since its first day.

He then went on to be a chef and attended the Army Catering College where he achieved a distinction as a result of his excellent cooking skills.

Roy even cooked for HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and was recommended to serve on the Royal Yacht, but he ended up serving on a ship in Malta.

He then went on to serve on HMS Ickford, which was manned by Royal Marines.

Roy met his wife Esther in Totnes and they were happily married for 56 years until she diedsuddenly last year on her birthday.

Roy looks back on the time they had together during the first period of lockdown in the pandemic and remembers the quality time they got to spend together without the normal life distractions as they were both avid volunteers.

Roy continued to volunteer after the death of his wife Esther.

Over the past year Roy has spent his time volunteering at the Covid-19 testing station at South Brent and has been instrumental in setting up more testing sites locally.

While volunteering at the site, he works hard to ensure people have all the information that need and has taken that knowledge with him as he now volunteers at the local vaccination centres.

Roy is well known for his ability to keep people feeling calm and reassured when coming in for their injections.

Alongside this, Roy also volunteers to look after the Royal Marine memorial garden inStonehouse Plymouth.

During his wife's funeral, Roy's granddaughter flagged to him the state of disrepair of the memorial garden in South Brent.

It was overgrown, headstones were obstructed, and the garden needed some loving care.

Roy has now taken on the care of this garden too.

If this is wasn’t enough for a retired former Royal Marine, Roy regularly bakes and shares his delicious baked goods with people working hard in the community.

As well as helping out at the Covid centres, Roy has also taken up caring for the memorial garden in Stonehouse.

When asked where he gets the motivation to do so much, no matter whatever the weather, Roy simply says: “I like to see people happy with a smile on their face.

“When I recall my basic training with the Royal Marines, it gave me determination and I never like to start something that I can’t finish.”

Roy comes well prepared and his car is full of many sets of clothing for all weathers, depending on where he is volunteering that day, and he keeps a fold out chair in the boot so that he can set up and be comfortable wherever he needs to.

Dr Harris is a GP at Beacon Medical Group, the practice that runs the vaccination centre inPlympton, and said: “When Beacon Medical Group made the decision to look to our community to ask for volunteers to assist us with marshalling at our Covid-19 vaccination centre, we were overwhelmed with the offers of help we had from an army of volunteers.

"And we consider ourselves particularly lucky to have had the support from someone like Roy. Roy has been an absolute wonder and stalwart. He always volunteers with a smile on his face and a steely determination to help others. He goes above and beyond to keep our patients safe and well.

"On one occasion, he even grabbed a spanner and did some fixing to ensure the heating in our vaccination marquee was working properly for the comfort of our patients.

“We salute you Roy and for everything that you have done for us and the community.”

Those around him have commended Roy for his selflessness.

Rianna Clarke, Executive Assistant at Beacon Medical Group, added: “Roy is a valued member of the Beacon family now. He makes a huge effort to get to know everyone he meets - from staff to volunteers and patients, and everyone comments on what a pleasure he is to have around.

“Roy is always willing to help, often at short notice. He truly is a remarkable man and I have the greatest respect for him.”

Roy’s daughter Dawn works at South Brent Health Centre and Roy has also supported thepractice during the vaccination programme.

Dr Sofka Morris, GP at South Brent Health Centre, said: “Roy has been a constant supportsince the very beginning of the pandemic.

"He was the first to volunteer at every given opportunity to assist in both flu and coronavirus vaccination clinics. He has spent days on end stood outside in pouring rain and howling wind, and I have even seen him pour the rain water out of his boots on a particularly wet and cold winter's day, yet he continues to offer his precioustime

“Roy has a lovely manner. He is calm, soothing, and controlled despite the many challenges he faces with the occasionally challenging parking arrangements, but his military background comes in very helpful and he offers gentle reminders to wear face coverings and maintain social distancing. We would be lost without Roy.”

Roy joined the Royal Marines in 1956.

On the day of his wife Esther’s funeral, Roy put his Blues on and marched through the village, where he was surprised to see the street lined by neighbours, friends, and many people who he didn’t know they had touched and helped in different ways.

Esther loved seeing him in his uniform, so he placed his Beret on the coffin so she could take it with her.

Roy’s efforts and service to both the military and NHS were recognised by Dr Paul Johnson,Chair of NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning, Ian Phillip, from NHS England and Brigadier Jock Fraser, Naval Regional Command on Friday 16 April, with a commendation presented to him at South Brent Health Centre.

Brigadier Jock Fraser said: “It has been an absolute privilege to be present today and to jointly present Roy with this certificate formally recognising the exceptional contribution he has made to the pandemic response.

“It has been humbling and inspiring in equal measure to learn of the selfless way Roy hascommitted his time, compassion and boundless energy to helping others. Showing that hisCommando spirit is as strong now as when he served in the Royal Marines, Roy’s example has led the way in adapting and overcoming in extraordinary circumstances.

"Once a Royal Marine, always a Royal Marine.”

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