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coronavirus

‘I wanted to give something back’: Meet the manager moonlighting as a vaccine volunteer

When Andrew Bennett was placed on furlough, he knew binge watching Netflix wasn't for him. So he decided to roll up his sleeves - or, more precisely, those of others
 

“It’s all very nice and good being paid 80 per cent of my salary to be sat at home two days a week,” says Andrew Bennett, “but that doesn’t sit well with me in the current climate. So I thought, ‘How can I help?’” 

When the property and asset manager for BGL Golf was placed on flexi-furlough, as golf clubs in England shut at the start of the year, he’d already decided two days a week binge watching Netflix was not for him. 

He’d applied to join the more than 80,000 people and NHS workers who have been trained to administer the Covid-19 vaccine, and he’s now part of an army of volunteers helping the UK fight back against coronavirus. 

Bennett signed up with St John Ambulance and completed a thorough online and face-to-face training programme, which included practising jabs on dummy arms. 

Now he’s waiting to do it all for real and says going through the process has given him huge admiration, both for the frontline workers treating people and the drug companies that have produced vaccines in record time. 

“I thought they needed help or vaccinators in order to get this rollout upscaled,” he explains of his motivation to get involved. 

“I thought, ‘Well that’s an opportunity for me to be able to give back.’ My parents are both elderly. St John were recruiting for vaccinators and I applied. I had an interview, which I gladly got through. I’ve done about 22 hours of online training and I’ve had an entire day of face-to-face training with St John.” 

And he’s found it’s about so much more than simply putting a needle into someone’s arm. 

coronavirus

“You have to learn all about how the vaccines work, what all the different trial stages have been, ingredients and how they were developed as you’re obviously going to get questions,” Bennett adds. 

“I take great pleasure in the knowledge I have gained from this, partly because it’s bettered my own understanding of the vaccine and it’s also bettered my own understanding of the rigorous process that vaccinations have to go through – from, inception, through development, and into somebody’s arm. 

“It’s not just a case of I’ll vaccinate someone, thanks very much, and that’s the end of it.  

“So it’s given me a real appreciation for the drug companies and for the NHS.” 

Bennett has signed up to a minimum of two eight-hour shifts a month but is hoping to do much more. 

Donned in full PPE, he’s become fluent in infection control, watching out for any potential adverse affects in people who’ve been vaccinated, as well as being taught vital first aid skills he’ll be able to use for the rest of his life. 

“It was a case of thinking, ‘How can I do something to give back and help this whole situation?’,” he says. “I’m looking forward to being called up, getting stuck in, and doing everything I can.” 

Have any of your club’s staff gone the extra mile to help people during the coronavirus pandemic? Let me know in the comments, or tweet me.

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Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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