On Friday 15 July and just over a year since the final COVID vaccination was administered at the Vaccination Centre at Newbury Racecourse, representatives from the nine surgeries involved and some of the 400 volunteers will gather to take part in in a special ceremony to unveil a plaque as a permanent reminder of the community efforts which went into the delivery of over 66,500 vaccinations to patients across West Berkshire during the pandemic.


Coordinated by two of the lead volunteers, Beverley Sunderland and Jonathan Cross, over 100 volunteers and NHS staff from the nine surgeries involved will attend Newbury’s Friday afternoon racing fixture with the plaque unveiling taking place immediately following the second race at 1.45pm by the Lord Lieutenant of the Royal County of Berkshire, Mr James Puxley.


Julian Thick, Chief Executive for Newbury Racecourse commented: “It is absolutely befitting to have a permanent marker of the incredible efforts by the local community during the pandemic. The combined efforts of the nine surgeries from across West Berkshire and the 400 volunteers who helped with the delivery of over 66,500 vaccinations is quite amazing and we are immensely proud to have played a very small but important part.


“Particular thanks must go to Beverley Sunderland who, together with her husband Jon organised the volunteers and who are stalwarts of the community and very deserving recipients of the Racecourse Association’s Community Hero Award, which will be presented to them on Friday afternoon.”


Dr Abid Irfan, Interim Director of Primary Care and Deputy Medical Director BOB ICB said: “The way our community volunteers and NHS staff came together to support the roll out of the vaccination programme was outstanding and everyone played a key role in making it such a success. The invaluable Vaccination centre volunteers and NHS teams worked together to provide reassurance, kindness and support for people, many who hadn’t been out of their homes for a very long time and were feeling nervous and vulnerable at a time of unprecedented uncertainty.


“I’m so pleased that their commitment to the success of the vaccination programme is acknowledged with this plaque and that it’s being placed at the Racecourse which provided us with such a warm welcome and a huge amount of help during the time we ran the vaccination programme .”


Beverley Sunderland on behalf of the 400 volunteers added: “‘It is a testament to our community that 400 of them stepped forward as volunteers to help ensure that the vulnerable were vaccinated as quickly as possible. Working hand in hand with the amazing NHS team who got the vaccination centre up and running in record time, the volunteers came from every imaginable walk of life and despite the freezing weather and personal risk to themselves, they were always cheerful and caring.


“We were so lucky to have such great support in the community – with cakes, biscuits and other treats arriving on a daily basis, and Newbury Racecourse did all they could to ensure the vaccination centre was a success and to make us feel welcome.  We were all immensely proud to be part of this project and are delighted that the Racecourse is marking this remarkable collaboration with a plaque.’