THROUGHOUT the past 10 months, our lives have changed completely, but the latest vaccinations offer a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

Here we shine a spotlight on some of the volunteers and support staff at the mass vaccination centre at Saints' Totally Wicked Stadium.

Our first volunteer is Calvin Grover, 63.

Calvin Glover

Calvin Glover

Calvin moved to Thatto Heath from Portsmouth several years ago to be closer to his son, daughter-in-law, and grandsons, Jake 13 and Joshua, 10.

He’s been a volunteer at St Helens and Knowsley Hospitals NHS Trust for four years, and before the pandemic he was on hand to offer support to patients and staff in the Accident & Emergency department.

However now Calvin is helping people arriving in the waiting room at the Mass Vaccination Centre by directing them to vaccinators and ensuring the waiting area is sanitised.

He said: "I just wanted something to do and to give something back to the community. The staff are all so fantastic too, they give so much. It’s lovely here, they make you feel like such a part of the team."

Before he started volunteering with the Trust, Calvin served 27 years in the British Army and values the sense of teamwork, he added: "I love meeting people and helping people, and it keeps me active. I love it. The organisational skills come in handy."

Supporting the vaccination centre is Calvin’s main opportunity to leave the house, after staying at home for much of the last year.

He added: "I tend to stay in touch with my grandsons on Skype. It’s been hard to keep my distance, but it’s about protecting others.

"It’s been very important for me to get the vaccine, hopefully to get back to some normality, although I’m not sure if we’ll get back to normal ‘normal’.

"I’d encourage everyone to have the vaccine. It’s about being safe, wash your hands, wear your mask and keep your distance."

Next up is David Lynam, 72.

David Lynam

David Lynam

David from Billinge, can usually be found as a steward ushering the crowds on matchdays at Saints stadium.

A lifelong Saints fan, David was only too keen to help with the vaccination programme when the opportunity came about.

He said: "I get a lot of pleasure out of it. With it being lockdown anyway, it certainly breaks the monotony up.

"It’s good getting out the house and doing something help. I know a lot of the other stewards who are also helping out, it’s a great team of people."

David gets to meet people arriving for their Covid jabs and directs them to the relevant check-in points or waiting areas.

He said: "They are all made up with the set up here, it’s very smooth, they go straight through, no problems. There’s very little time to wait and they’re all very grateful.

"A lot haven’t been out since last March, especially the over 80s. They feel safe here as everywhere is spotless."

David received his invitation to get vaccinated recently too and leapt at the chance, added: "I got my vaccine a couple of weeks ago now, I wasn’t going to refuse it."

When he’s not volunteering, David has been using the time in lockdown to stay active.

He added: "I’ve got a little Schnauzer and he’s kept me going with exercise, and my wife sometimes joins me for a walk.

"Lockdown has been all right; it just feels a little long this time. I’m just hoping this lockdown will be the last one."

Another volunteer is Liz McDonald, 40.

Liz McDonald

Liz McDonald

Liz from Widnes has joined the vaccination centre from the private sector. With a Human Resources background, she wanted to take the opportunity to use her skills and experience to help the NHS.

In her new role, she is supporting the recruitment of clinical and administrative staff to the mass vaccination programme across Cheshire and Merseyside.

As an important addition to the team behind the scenes, a collective change in mood hasn’t escaped Liz’s notice.

She said: "When you come here, it’s got a nice feel about it. It feels positive. It’s busy, but people are in such good spirits and I think people are feeling that the tide is turning for the better, and it’s great to be a part of that."

Liz is also quick to praise the team behind the centre.

She added: "The vaccination centre is absolutely fabulous. It’s such a large-scale operation, I’m really proud to do what I can to help."

Whilst lockdown has been a difficult time for everyone, Liz is extremely grateful that she and her family haven’t been directly affected by Covid, adding: "Over the past year, I think we’ve been very fortunate, we’ve not had to deal with anything other than the issues of home-schooling, so we count ourselves as very lucky.

"Because I’m now considered a key worker, my two girls are now attending primary school again, which is great because it no longer leaves me feeling like I’m juggling everything, and they have some stability back too."

Lastly we have Barbara Hatton, 62.

Barbara Heaton

Barbara Heaton

Barbara from Parbold, near Wigan, started volunteering with St John’s Ambulance just four weeks ago, and after already lending her support to the mass vaccination centre at the Etihad stadium in Manchester, she is now giving her time to help at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

Barbara is just one of the many friendly faces greeting people and putting them at ease as they arrive at the Saints rugby ground.

She’s currently helping with screening visitors to the stadium before they get their vaccine, taking their temperature and directing them to the correct check-in desks.

She said: "It’s a pleasant atmosphere, it’s calm, it’s organised, and people are pleased to be here."

She’s hopeful that the vaccine programme means she’ll be reunited with her grandson again in the near future.

She added: "I used to go down to London every week to take care of my grandson Reggie, and I’ve had to stop doing that.

"I’ve been doing that pretty much ever since he was born, and it will mean everything to see him again.

"It’s his fourth birthday next week, and it’s a real shame to be missing it. I have all his Christmas presents ready and waiting for him too."

With a background in health care, Barbara usually works as an Occupational Therapist, helping to carry out driving assessments for people with illness or disability, but is currently furloughed and wanted to put her skills and time to good use.

She said: "It’s nice to be able to help out. It’s been really really good to volunteer here, and it’s been quite emotional too, especially for some of the older people we’ve been seeing.

"For a lot of people, it’s the first time they’ve been out of the house for a long long time.

"Some people have got dressed up to attend, because it feels like a big event and the first step towards getting back to some normality."