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Coronavirus vaccine centre opens in historic cathedral


By PA News

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A Covid-19 vaccination service has begun administering jabs at Lichfield Cathedral after being set up along its medieval nave.

Britain’s oldest three-spired cathedral, in Staffordshire, was dubbed “the most glamorous vaccine centre in Britain” by the city’s MP.

Field hospital-style facilities and waiting areas have been set up inside the cathedral, including along its central aisle.

The Dean of Lichfield, the Very Rev Adrian Dorber, said people working at the centre were “buzzing” – with volunteers glad to help out.

He said of the centre: “It’s great, it’s a real glimmer of hope after a very dark year, and we are delighted to be able to offer the place as a nice, airy, socially distanced space in which this can take place.

“I hope it’s a symbol of how all the communities can come together to facilitate the rollout of this amazing vaccine.”

Nurses hold their hands up to signify a free bay (Jacob King/PA)
Nurses hold their hands up to signify a free bay (Jacob King/PA)

The dean, who has overall charge of the cathedral, said setting up the centre was surprisingly straightforward, taking only a couple of days.

He told the PA news agency: “We issued the invitation as soon as we heard of the dawning of the vaccine last autumn.

“We have been in negotiation with the practices since then, saying the offer is there, we will do all we can to help you.

Members of the public queue outside the cathedral (Jacob King/PA)
Members of the public queue outside the cathedral (Jacob King/PA)

“So we had a plan, and we tend at this time of year anyway to sort of clear the nave of furniture so that during the quiet months people can get an uninterrupted view of the space.

“So this has been a really fortuitous coming together of our availability and local need.

“We’ve got some really well-drilled volunteers and a really capable staff, who have just kind of gone into ‘battle action’ and done it.”

Geoffrey Beedle, 86, receives an injection (Jacob King/PA)
Geoffrey Beedle, 86, receives an injection (Jacob King/PA)

The cathedral’s daily worship is currently taking place online, and the building is expected to be closed to public worship for around two months.

Asked how long the centre might be required at the church, the dean added: “Let’s just see. It’s just great that we can help in this way.”

Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant tweeted a picture of local people queueing for appointments at the centre, and referenced the historical site’s role as a place of pilgrimage.

The Conservative MP wrote: “This just has to be the most glamorous vaccine centre in Britain! They came in the Middle Ages for the cure. They still come today.”


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