I joined St John Ambulance three years ago. I’m originally from Leeds and when I moved to my current home in Swadlincote, South Derbyshire, I wanted to meet new people and learn new skills. Joining St John certainly took me out of my comfort zone - I spent a lot of my first year worrying about whether I’d have to deal with a cardiac arrest. But I soon found being a St John volunteer becomes addictive!
Then COVID-19 came along and I started volunteering alongside NHS staff in the A&E department at Chesterfield Royal Hospital as a member of St John. I was given extra training in the care of Covid patients and worked alongside the doctors, nurses and health care assistants.
Me and the other St John volunteers were really made to feel like part of the NHS team. In the back of my mind I had some concerns about Covid but I knew this was the kind of work I wanted to be doing. I learned so much that will help me in my future career, having started a paramedicine degree at De Montfort University September 2020.
When I heard St John would be training thousands of volunteers to support the NHS COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, I immediately applied. It’s something I feel very passionate about, having cared for Covid patients at the start of the pandemic.
I lost my mum to Covid recently, so being involved in the vaccination training has been bittersweet.
As she had suffered from COPD, she was always vulnerable and we knew it would be dangerous if she caught Covid, so it was very important to her that I trained to deliver the vaccinations and that I was also part of the training team to help deliver the vaccinator training to other volunteers.
We found out on the Christmas Day that she had contracted COVID-19 after being admitted to hospital. On 9th January we received the call to say she was deteriorating. Although I was due to help train a vaccinator course the next day in Derby, I knew that she would have wanted me to continue helping to train others. If anything, it made me even more determined to see it through. She died the night of the course.
She was so proud of what I did. Back in November 2020, a photo of me doing my vaccination training appeared on the front page of The Observer. She said it was the best day ever to see her daughter on the front page of a national newspaper representing something so important.
If there can be any positives that come out of this it will be that our family can help others to keep their loved ones safe.
Dedicated to Yvonne Ambrosen – 10th March 1951 – 10th January 2021.