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Nothing beats Preston, says Marian 800 times

imageCome rain or shine, Marian Orford has been a familiar face at the COVID vaccination centre at St Johns Centre in the middle of Preston

The hub, which is due to close on December 23rd, has played a pivotal role in Lancashire's mass vaccination roll-out.

Volunteer Marian this week marked her 800th shift as a marshall, and she has enjoyed working every single one.

A former occupational health sister, who has also worked for Lancashire Constabulary, care is key to Marian, and she said: "It's just been a wonderful experience all around.

"I started off as an outside marshall, and then I've been working inside with the rest of the team since. It really is a team effort.

"We're just one big family. It doesn't matter whether you clean, whether you volunteer, whether you run the department, whether you're a vaccinator, every little bit is part of that cog.

"We've been supported by wonderful security people. It is really a close family and I think that's why we're feeling the emotion right now as we're getting closer to the end of this time together."

Marian has built friendships for life over the pandemic and added: "I think a number of friendships will go on. Of course, people will all go in their own direction.

"A lot will go straight back into the NHS system, where they're doing the sort of wonderful work that the NHS do. People like me who are volunteers will probably find the little nook and cranny where we'll be able to do that again.

"It has been excellent to do something with this.

"It's just been such a powerful experience of people together and doing something so important. It's made such a big difference to me. I've really, really enjoyed it.

"I've just loved every minute of it.  I've had to get up at half past six to get here by public transport, and there's never been a moment when I woke up and thought 'I really don't want to go in today'. It's always been 'another day at the centre, that's great. I wonder who's on today'. It's been really good."

And Marian believes the vaccination programme has been hugely important in helping life get back to some form of normality: "I'm passionate about it. And I encourage all my friends and family to go ahead and get the jab, and answer questions that maybe they've misunderstood, to clarify things.

"Hopefully many of them have come here following that. So, I just encourage everyone to take part - we're so lucky to have this very good vaccine that will prevent so much illness.

"I mean, a few people have made out it feels like a bad cold or that's all it is.

"But a lot of people are going to have prolonged illness, and then it will go on and be long COVID, which brings so many other things to the foreground of your general health, and it's all very negative. So yes, we can't encourage people enough."

One thing that has stood out to Marian has been the spirit of the city and its people: "When we started in the February, I was an outside marshal and I stayed outside for probably at least the first year.

"We were in all sorts of weather, but do you know what, the people of Preston are amazing. We keep getting bags of sweets, people coming up to us and encouraging us. People offering umbrellas, all sorts of things.

"And it was so wonderful to meet so many lovely people of Preston. "Prestonians you can have a conversation with at the drop of a hat.

"And they're just so much fun. In fact, one couple were going to the bus station with the suitcases, and they diverted back to me just to let me know that they wouldn't be around for the next two weeks because they were going on holiday. And that's the kind of outside friendships we wouldn't get in the same place every week." 

Get in touch

Chorley and South Ribble Hospital

Preston Road



01257 261222

Royal Preston Hospital

Sharoe Green Lane




01772 716565

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