Covid: leading nurse reflects as Preston's largest vaccination centre closes its doors for the last time

The nurse in charge of one of Lancashire's largest Covid vaccination centres has reflected on the "phenomenal project" as it closes its doors for the last time.
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Judy Pendlebury has been site lead for the centre set up in St John's Shopping Centre, Preston, since it opened in January 2021, and has seen 200,000 people walk through the doors for their jabs.

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"I'm proud of everything we've achieved", said Judy.

Photo Neil Cross; The Covid Vaccination Centre at St John's in Preston closes for the last timePhoto Neil Cross; The Covid Vaccination Centre at St John's in Preston closes for the last time
Photo Neil Cross; The Covid Vaccination Centre at St John's in Preston closes for the last time

"It's been an absolutely phenomenal project and I'm very privileged to have been part of it."

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It was announced earlier this month that the Covid centres at St John’s Shopping Centre in Preston, Barbara Castle Way in Blackburn and Charter Walk Shopping Centre in Burnley would close on 23 December.

Their closure is because the vaccine programme has reached a point where it can be delivered within primary care, either in GP surgeries or pharmacies, or in settings managed by them.

Judy said: "It really is a time in history, and it's been amazing.

Photo Neil Cross; The Covid Vaccination Centre at St John's in Preston closes for the last timePhoto Neil Cross; The Covid Vaccination Centre at St John's in Preston closes for the last time
Photo Neil Cross; The Covid Vaccination Centre at St John's in Preston closes for the last time

"It's been busy, but it's been our way out of Covid.

"Covid is still here, but we have seen that as soon as the mass vaccinations were rolled out, deaths went right down."

"Best team”

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NHS staff at the centre were flanked by members of the Army, RAF, Navy, fire service and civilian volunteers.

Photo Neil Cross; The Covid Vaccination Centre at St John's in Preston closes for the last timePhoto Neil Cross; The Covid Vaccination Centre at St John's in Preston closes for the last time
Photo Neil Cross; The Covid Vaccination Centre at St John's in Preston closes for the last time

Judy added: "We've had the best team here - more than 100 of us, all from different backgrounds who had never met before.

"We've all worked so well together and I've never heard anybody say 'that's not my job'.

"When we've been short of marshalls or cleaners, then we've all mucked in."

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She added: "It's been an amazing project and I'm sad to say goodbye to the people I've built strong relationships with, but we've vaccinated the masses and this is all part of getting back to normal."

Photo Neil Cross; The Covid Vaccination Centre at St John's in Preston closes for the last timePhoto Neil Cross; The Covid Vaccination Centre at St John's in Preston closes for the last time
Photo Neil Cross; The Covid Vaccination Centre at St John's in Preston closes for the last time

'Normal' for Judy is her job as Matron of outpatients at the Royal Preston Hospital.

She said: "I left that job at the end of January 2021 and said I'd be back in six months! But I wanted to see it through.

"I've had lots of messages from colleagues saying they're glad I'm coming home. It feels like I'm going back to my family there."