During the next seven months, a team totalling 1,107 staff and volunteers from the NHS, St Johns Ambulance, Ashton Gate Stadium and many other charities and community organisations worked together to give a total of 235,048 vaccinations before the centre moved to UWE Bristol in early August 2021.
Marking the first anniversary of its opening, the West of England AHSN has produced a publication capturing some of the memories, insights and learning from those involved in setting up and working at Ashton Gate Vaccination Centre.
Themes of friendship, diversity and teamwork shine through in these recollections, as well as stories about the individuals and characters who helped to make a difference when times were challenging. Volunteers and staff also shared their thoughts on leadership, communications and logistics, as well as many lessons learned to pass onto future teams involved in similar work.
Helping to set up and working at Ashton Gate Vaccination Centre had a very personal impact on people, with many talking about their individual motivations, their experiences of personal growth and development and the opportunity to learn new skills.
People also told us what they would put into an Ashton Gate time capsule as a memento of their time working at the Centre. Offerings ranged from their hi-vis jacket and “lovely teal uniform” to sachets of hot chocolate “as a reminder of snatched sustenance” and “a box of tissues for tears”.
Anne Morris, Chief Nurse for the Bristol, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire Vaccination Programme, said:
“It meant so much to all of us to be part of the vaccination programme, playing our part to help as many people as possible during the Covid-19 pandemic. We all felt like we were making a difference, and indeed we were. This has been the most uplifting and positive experience of my nursing career.
“Thank you to our friends at the West of England Academic Health Science Network for helping us to document these experiences and to each and every one of the 1,107 members of the Ashton Gate Vaccination Centre team. Your contributions have been extraordinary, and I feel very proud of all we have achieved together.”
The mass vaccination centre moved to UWE Bristol on 7 July 2021, making use of the decommissioned NHS Nightingale Hospital facilities, and it continues to play a key role in the Bristol, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire Vaccination Programme.