Salisbury Cathedral says goodbye to vaccine team as new venue revealed

The Covid-19 vaccination effort at Salisbury Cathedral has ended – but it won’t go far, with NHS teams delivering the jabs moving to another building in the Close.

On Saturday (May 1) the Sarum South Primary Care Network team delivered the final jabs in the cathedral itself, with a thank you event taking place to celebrate the success of the rollout.

The NHS workers and volunteers even went out applauded by a guard of honour, formed by clergy and the cathedral team.

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From Sunday (May 2) the cathedral returned to ‘in person’ choral worship.

There are also plans for the cathedral to re-open to visitors later in May.

The return of worship means a change of venue for vaccinations, with the NHS team relocating across the Close to another cathedral building – Leaden Hall.

The building is currently being used by the education team for schools workshops and by staff for large meetings but will now be transformed into a vaccine hub in the next phase of the rollout.

Big Bank Holiday send off

Since January the Sarum South Primary Care Network team and their volunteers (around 90 people in all) have vaccinated more than 35,000 people in the cathedral – around 1,600 people were vaccinated on Saturday alone.

The final jab was given to 58-year-old Gerard Henderson, administered by Dr Rob Hewetson.

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A special farewell ceremony was held after the last innoculations were given, giving Salisbury Cathedral the chance to thank the hard-working volunteers and NHS workers, and vice versa.

The Very Revd Nicholas Papadopulos, Dean of Salisbury, thanked the team for all they had done for the community and the cathedral, and The Right Revd Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury added his thanks and delivered a blessing.

Dr Michele Giorgi Joint Clinical Director Sarum South PCN also paid tribute to not only his staff and volunteers but the organists who have played for every vaccination session since they began, and the Salisbury Cathedral staff and volunteers who have worked alongside the NHS team throughout.

Gifts were exchanged to mark the occasion.

The Sarum South Primary Care Network presented the Cathedral with a frame collage created using consumables from the vaccination sessions.

And the Cathedral gave each participating practice a print of the Patrick Blower cartoon featuring the Cathedral as a vaccine centre, which was published in the Telegraph on January 18, 2021.

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‘Part of our story forever’

The Very Revd Nicholas Papadopulos, Dean of Salisbury said: “We will be sad to see the NHS team go.

“Their distinctive blue cubicles, vaccinators and volunteers have become a familiar sight in and around the cathedral, along with the thousands of patients turning up for their jabs.

“Their story is and will remain part of our story forever.”

The Right Rev Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury said: “It has been a privilege to witness the vaccination rollout not just here in the cathedral, but across the diocese, and to observe the ways in which the community and medical professions have worked selflessly towards a common goal.

“It is equally joyous to be returning to choral worship ‘in person’.

“Music is a precious expression of God’s love and to be able to gather and hear it once again is wonderful.”

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New vaccine venue

Leaden Hall will ensure Salisbury Cathedral continues to have a role in supporting the delivering of coronavirus vaccinations in the community.

Salisbury Medical Practice and Whiteparish Surgery announced on Friday (April 30) that the cathedral vaccine venue would be changing.

They informed patients that they will be contacted with details about the arrangements at Leaden Hall, should they be called to get a jab there.

The surgeries also included a map online to guide patients to the new venue.

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Dr Michele Giorgi Joint Clinical Director Sarum South PCN said: “We would like to thank the cathedral for being amazing hosts for this exceptional programme, the staff and volunteers could not have done more to help the vaccination teams protect our population from Covid-19. 

“It has been a truly memorable experience for all involved.”

Return of in person worship

The return to ‘in person’ choral worship on Sunday (May 2) was welcomed by Salisbury Cathedral’s Director of Music, David Halls and his Assistant Director, John Challenger.

The pair have forged a special bond with the NHS team, spending hundreds of hours at the organ providing a soothing musical backdrop to the vaccination sessions.

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David Halls said: “Being near the frontline during this extraordinary health campaign has been an honour and having the opportunity to contribute in some small way to defeating this pandemic has been both moving and humbling.

“However, we are first and foremost cathedral musicians and choral music is at the heart of our daily worship.

“To be able to return to some semblance of normality in that respect is wonderful.

“We have missed it.”

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A well as being the first service sung by the choir with a congregation present since Christmas, Sunday’s Evensong at 4.30pm was a special occasion for three probationers or trainee choristers, who were admitted as full choristers.

Despite the easing of lockdown however, social distancing regulations remains in place and numbers able to worship together in the cathedral are still limited.

Booking for services remains essential and face masks must still be worn inside.

Congregational singing is not yet allowed.

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