One year ago, on Monday 11 January 2021 the Ashton Gate Vaccination Centre opened its doors to the people of Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. This was an incredible achievement, having taken just three days to transform the stadium into a large-scale Covid vaccination centre with the help of a military team.

During the next seven months, a team totalling 1,107 staff and volunteers from the NHS, St John 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.

Download or read the publication online here.

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.

An illustration of the Ashton Gate Time Capsule, which features: “My lovely teal uniform.” “My uniform, as for me it makes me feel I was able to be a part of a team of people to make a difference.” “My scrubs and mask I hope one day we will not have to wear them.” A hi-vis jacket. “Maybe a Bristol city shirt too just to say that’s where we done it.” “The pictures of the footballers on the ceiling. Every day I’d look up to see who I was sat beneath.” “The pictures and messages people drew on the walls of the pods.” A syringe and syringe caps. “I kept all the plastic needle caps of every vaccination I administered - very excited to count them out.” “I remember a 100 year old patient coming along for their 1st vaccine travelling in a taxi on their own and being so pleased to receive the vaccine as they hadn't left their home in almost a year. This will always be in my memory.” “Photo of a tiny nurse being lent on by a tall muscular young man who was feeling faint as she gently helped him out of the vaccination bay to a chair.” “Photo of an elderly lady with tears of gratitude in her eyes after her first vaccination.” “Photo of the patient queue of people waiting their turn to be jabbed.” Antiseptic wipes and hand sanitizer “Blimey we got through a lot of them!” “A pack of clinical cleaning wipes, for cleaning. Hand sanitizer.” “A vaccination card.” “Simple reminder of the vaccines being offered at the centre.” “Lanyard and vaccination centre badge – I was so proud to wear them” “A box of tissues for tears.” Bottle of human kindness “There are good people in our world who only want to help make things better.” “Shoes for the memory of sore feet after a long shift!” Sachet of hot chocolate and a steaming cup “A reminder of snatched sustenance!”

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.

Posted on January 11, 2022

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