How the community helped with East Sussex's first pharmacy-run vaccine centre

When the first pharmacy-run vaccine centre in East Sussex opened to patients, the community rallied together to help people travel to and from the centre safely.

Ticehurst Village Hall, in Lower High Street, opened under Ticehurst Pharmacy's control on Thursday (January 21) and will provide a minimum of 1,000 doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine per week ‘to those eligible’ in the community.

However, local residents said the announcement was a 'shot in the arm' for many people who would find it difficult to travel much further afield to receive their jab.

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The first day also saw problems with the centre itself. Keeping the socially distanced queues of people safe was proving difficult due one-way route for entering and exiting the hall.

The Coppards team lays the new pathway. Picture: Ticehurst Village Centre Project

There were also a number of patients using walking or aids or wheelchairs who were expected to navigate the old and crumbling pathway linking the hall to the car park at the back of the building. Some of these people would be doing this in the dark on a late winter's afternoon.

As the problem became very urgent and real, a call was put out to Quin Coppard from Coppard, a plant and machinery company in Crowborough.

The next day, a team from their Civil Engineering division jumped on the task and, arriving with a lorry load of tarmac, soon made surface smooth, ahead of a complete levelling of the

pathway hastily scheduled for the following week.

An electrician took time out of his work to install lights so people could safely return from the hall to their cars. Picture: Ticehurst Village Centre Project

The Ticehurst Village Centre Project said: "Their response was fantastic and definitely worthy of a shout-out in acknowledgement of them going that extra mile for a vital local cause, especially with such a busy workload.

"Deserving a mention, too, is local electrician Daniel Studholme, whose break to his company’s work schedule resulted in the pathway now being graced with a permanent run of lights that illuminate the back of the hall and guide people to their cars.

"And Annie Alfillie, in charge of the local Youth Club, immediately strung a host of lights in the hedge to the front of the building so that people walking in for their vaccination could safely negotiate their way.

"There is a huge amount to be said for living in an area where community spirit is alive and kicking, especially at these very grim and unprecedented times."

Hardik Desai is heading up the vaccination centre and said he is 'delighted to be working with his excellent team of nurses and with the support of the Ticehurst Community Friends’ volunteers' in order to provide around 1,000 doses of the vaccine each week to the community in which he serves.

Councillor Teresa Killeen, from Ticehurst Community Friends, said: “Such a great result. It has been amazing to see, once again, so many people pulling together to help with something important to the village.”