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Hayley Bates


“A friend suggested I apply to volunteer at a vaccination centre as she knew I was finding this latest lockdown hard,” says Hayley, owner of a pub/restaurant in St Leonards on Sea, who is “used to a structured day with hard work and long hours”. 

In normal times, she has chickens and rabbits to care for, dogs to walk, and a horse to ride. Netball also occupies her time, as does spending time at shooting grounds in a bid to improve her “clay busting”. 

But with time to spare when many of these activities were suspended by the pandemic, Hayley applied to join the vaccination programme, choosing to “go home” by working in Etchingham, where she grew up, received her primary-level education, and was married. 

“I was thoroughly over-excited to get a call asking if I could start straight away, and even more so when I was asked to be a volunteer co-ordinator (a promotion before I'd started!),” she says. 

“It felt so good to be there from day one, to feel that in some small way I was doing something to help, and to see people start to arrive for their vaccinations, so grateful to be there and so thankful to all the medical team.” 

Although the vaccination programme has now been running for several weeks, Hayley’s excitement remains undimmed. 

“The centre is such a well-co-ordinated operation that it is a real joy to be part of it,” she says. “The whole clinical team work so hard that I always feel slightly guilty when I leave after a four to six-hour stint with a spring in my step, knowing that some of them are working for 12 hours or more and still have a long journey home.” 

Hayley has already made sure she can keep working her shifts when her business re-opens, and hopes there will be a role for her somewhere once the pandemic is over. 

“We are steadily progressing through the age groups and I am really looking forward to when it is the turn of the 50's age group as I'm sure there will be many people I know and it will be the closest thing to a day out I've had for months,” she says. 

“I would recommend volunteering to everyone. It is a privilege to work alongside our fantastic NHS and is a really good way of supporting the community.”