Bear Grylls signs up for The Sun's award-winning Jabs Army campaign and says it is what makes this country great
TELLY adventurer Bear Grylls had a foray into the battle against Covid-19 as he mucked in with our award-winning Jabs Army.
The former SAS trooper, 46, branded the volunteers and NHS workers “inspirational” as he helped deliver AstraZeneca vaccine vials to clinicians injecting the waiting public.
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He joined 30 helpers at one of the country’s largest inoculation centres, Swindon’s Steam Museum, which can dole out up to 2,400 vaccines a day.
Bear said: “It’s amazing to see so many proud volunteers and for The Sun to have raised 50,000 of them for the Jabs Army is inspirational.
“It speaks to the spirit of this nation that people are so keen to help out. So many of the volunteers here will have had their own battles alongside the one we have ongoing, but like storms in the wild, it won’t last for ever.
“The more of these incredible volunteers and NHS workers I meet, the more inspired I am.
“It’s been a privilege to volunteer alongside them.
“Many of them are here for their one day off during the week, to give out the vaccine. What they are doing here is serving their community. It’s what makes this country amazing.”
The more of these incredible volunteers and NHS workers I meet, the more inspired I am. It’s been a privilege to volunteer alongside them.
The centre has so far jabbed more than 100,000 people with Pfizer or AstraZeneca doses. During Bear’s visit, they had 21 stations, each staffed by a medic and a member of admin staff to keep the process as smooth as possible.
The TV favourite, who puts celebs through their paces in the wilderness in his series Running Wild With Bear Grylls, was tasked with taking a vial and syringes to medics when they signalled they needed more vaccine.
During his runner duties he met father-and-daughter duo Chantelle Brown, 36, who is a senior clinician at the site, and Chris Tubey, 69.
Paramedic practitioner Chantelle encouraged her dad to sign up to help with admin so she had a chance to see him properly after being separated for months during the pandemic.
Chris, a former firefighter, told Bear: “Chantelle is the pride of my life. A lot of rural areas rely so much on volunteers and that’s really been the case during this pandemic. I’m so glad I can be a part of it with my daughter.”
The pair get to work together one day a week. Chantelle told Bear: “I brought him in so I could see him, as under the restrictions I wouldn’t get to see him otherwise. It’s been nice to work together, it’s fun. We feel like family with the other volunteers, as they’re all regulars.”
A visibly touched Bear responded: “It’s a win-win all round. The Jabs Army has come together because of heroes like you.
“It’s so lovely seeing a father work with his daughter.
“The country is uniting and coming together because of amazing people like you guys. What you are doing is simply incredible.”
Chantelle added: “I love working with my dad. We’re a really good team.
"There are a couple of other volunteer teams who are mother and daughter. It’s a great way to work, as it means we trust each other totally. It’s been incredible to see the number of people who have signed up to help.
“Everyone is really keen to be here and support the efforts. The camaraderie is brilliant.”
Paul Miles gave up his old job to run the vaccination hub, where he is now employed along with deputy manager Matthew Stork.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Paul has been blown away by how positive everyone has been.
He said: “We’ve got nurses who have travelled so far to come and work here because they really enjoy the job and find what they’re doing satisfying.
“I left a job in logistics to work here and I have enjoyed every moment of it so far. We get all sorts of people volunteering, from those with full-time jobs to people who are at university and want to make a difference.
“Our volunteers travel from so far, we’ve got people here from Bristol, Salisbury, all over the place because they really want to help.”
Bear told Paul: “Whenever I chat to one of these volunteers or one of these nurses, at least half the time they tell me you’re doing an amazing job. Keep going.”
It’s a joy to get involved
From Kate Jackson, who volunteered at Bradford College, West Yorks
TAKING part in Jabs Army gave me a real spring in my step.
I’d seen the amazing rollout in action before, when I met boxer and Strictly contestant Nicola Adams for her volunteering shift at a centre in Leeds.
So I had a good idea just how uplifting it would be.
But actually getting involved was even more joyful than I expected.
In my high-vis and PPE, I was stationed by the admin check-in desk, greeting people as they arrived and marshalling the queue.
Some had travelled from miles away for their jab, from Halifax, Huddersfield and Silsden. Some had raced to the college from work, some had battled heavy traffic.
But no one minded in the slightest bit. Everyone was just happy to get their turn.
One 39-year-old woman from Slovakia told me: “I haven’t been home for two years. This is the first step to being able to see my family again.”
Another woman was visibly nervous because she had never had a vaccination without her parents before. She said: “I rang my dad and gave myself a pep talk.”
Without volunteers, centres such as Bradford College wouldn’t be able to run. It takes just a few hours of your time, but it feels amazing to make a small contribution to getting the nation protected.
When administering the Pfizer vaccine, the centre can give out 1,170 doses a day, but it will soon be able to do 1,500 after organising more space to allow people to wait the necessary 15 minutes after their jab.
During his visit Bear met nurse Kathy Smith who, to help out with the jabs effort, has been giving up her only day off in the week from work as a vaccinator at two GP surgeries in Swindon.
The grandma of three said: “My family are very proud of what I do. I volunteered because there aren’t enough people to do the vaccines.
“If we didn’t have enough volunteers this wouldn’t be such a success, would it.
“The volunteers are stalwarts. They work really, really hard, in all weathers.
“They’re a fantastic group of people. They add a human side to this effort. When people come for their vaccine and see the volunteers here they really get cheered up by it and realise everyone is working together to get this done.”
Bear was clearly impressed by her dedication and hailed her “an official hero” before adding: “Make sure your grandkids know their grandma is a legend.”
Bear follows in the footsteps of celebrities including TV presenters Vernon Kay and Kay Burley and former Olympic boxing champion Nicola Adams in helping with the vaccination effort and surprising volunteers and staff.
So far more than 36million Brits have had their first Covid jab and more than 20million their second with more being adminstered every day.
Bear added: “We’ve got this amazing, countrywide army of volunteers, it’s just incredible.
“It’s great seeing volunteers making the system work for them.
“They’re not only helping other people but they’re also getting something out of it themselves.
Everyone is working together to get this done.
“Volunteering so often works like that. The more you give, the more you get. A prime example of that is the father and daughter team.
“Teamwork is the dream work and this is working so well. I love it.”
The Swindon centre has volunteers of all ages, with the youngest being 24 and the oldest 69.
Helper Lynda Simonds, 63, told Bear: “I volunteered because it’s a whole national community spirit to get everything done, and hopefully get back to normal.
“If we can all get behind it, everything will be a bit more normal and a bit happier. So why not pitch in? It gets things done quicker and it’s good service, so why not?”
Ready to join?
ARE you a Jabs Army recruit?
The Royal Voluntary Service is urging everyone who has signed up to be a volunteer to keep on checking when they can help out. For the jabs rollout to keep up its momentum, they need more volunteer stewards than ever to keep up with demand.
This can be done by going on the GoodSAM app to see which shifts are available in your area. Then simply book yourself in to help.
Royal Voluntary Service Chief Executive Catherine Johnstone CBE, said: “Your time and effort has been nothing short of amazing.
“There are still lots more people to be vaccinated so please do stick with us and keep checking your GoodSAM app for shift updates.”
- Sign up at nhsvolunteerresponders.org.uk/nextinline
At the end of his shift, Bear was left feeling fantastic after interacting with our volunteers.
He said: “It’s really quite amazing. There are a lot of people who just want to help out. This is my first centre, it’s amazing.”
And in a final, rousing message to the volunteers he met, Bear said: “I think we’ve started at the top. Swindon has set the benchmark. I have so much respect for you and what you’re doing.”
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