What we have achieved together

On Wednesday January 20th I received a request to help with volunteers for Covid vaccination centres in Folkestone. There were no marshals for the Civic Centre and there was no date for the site at Debenhams. Rotary nationally had been preparing to help through the network of over 1700 clubs in the UK. Channel Rotary asked me to lead our effort.

My first call was to Barry Pluck at the Shepway Sports Trust who immediately agreed to help and sent a message to the 43 sports associated clubs asking for volunteers. The response was immediate and within the hour emails were flooding in from all the various clubs. Derek Harris OBE, another member of the Channel club, started combining all the emails into a database. Before the end of the day there were almost 100 volunteers on the list. Thank you all.

Dr Terry Cook-Davies agreed to join our small team. Terry is President of the Folkestone club and an internationally respected expert in project management. His role was/is to establish the booking system. A temporary system delivered marshals to the Civic Centre the following day. Volunteers kept volunteering, Derek compiling and Terry booking. It was just so rewarding to be able to help.

On Friday we were asked to help with the centre run by the NHS at the old Debenhams which now travels under the strange name of Folca -I think! It was so good to be able to say yes, expand the booking system and help immediately.

Terry’s system, by now much more sophisticated was easily able to cope. Bill Flavell, a very able businessman, joined our team to supervise the rota. Bill and I have worked on many projects in our town over the years. Our system now enable 35 volunteers every day between the two sites to be part of the great national vaccination effort.

Today Derek has over 250 volunteers on his spreadsheet, Terry sits at his control centre and Bill ensures that all slots are filled and looks after all the Risk Assessments and other boring stuff like that.

The Civic Centre vaccinates 500 people a day and Debenhams 1000. They must be cheaper at Debenhams or perhaps there is a deal!

The links developed by the Channel Club in running the Channel Triathlon were invaluable contacts to help our project to such a quick success. Thanks to the support of the Shepway Sports Trust, Jenner Construction, the District Council, Sainsburys for car parking, the Clifton Hotel for coffee at the Civic Centre; help so willingly given. The Channel Triathlon, http://www.channeltri.com even during the pandemic, raised about £11000 which was donated in part to mental health charities locally and the rest to school hardship funds and IT to help young people with schoolwork.

Rotary is an organisation of business and professional people who use their skills to help in the community. Coordination volunteers is a great example of how we can help. If you are interested in joining, look at http://www.channelrotary.org.uk or send me an email

Well done and thank you.

Joe Sullivan

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