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Bourne Galletly Practice volunteer vaccinator aged just 18 inspired to train to be a nurse

A teenager who has been volunteering for the Covid-19 vaccination programme has been so inspired she plans to train as a nurse.

Abbie Walster, 18, trained as a volunteer vaccinator with St John Ambulance at the start of this year after her role providing maternity cover for a teaching assistant came to an end.

She passed with flying colours and approached Bourne Galletly Practice to help give people the jab. Since then Abbie has given the vaccination to more than 600 patients at both the Galletly and Springfields vaccination centre in Spalding.

Abbie Walster, 18, who has been a volunteer vaccinator
Abbie Walster, 18, who has been a volunteer vaccinator

“I just thought if I can help in even a little way then I should do it,” said Abbie, who works part time at Full of Beans in Bourne.

“I started off vaccinating in Boston but the commute was a bit far. I saw that Galletly was asking for marshals so I just thought I’d email them to ask.

“I have loved it and I do feel incredibly proud of myself and the whole team.

“It feels like we’re doing our bit to help get us out of this horrible situation. When people come to get their jabs, it’s like a positive push for them. So many people have said ‘it means I’m a step closer to being able to hug my grandchildren’ and it does make you feel quite emotional.”

In fact, Abbie has been so heartened by the feeling of helping others that in September she will start training for a nursing degree at the Anglia Ruskin University in Peterborough. As well as adult nursing, she’ll also be training in mental health nursing.

“I just want to continue to help people in whatever way I can,” Abbie said.

“I was diagnosed with anxiety about four years ago and I really want to be part of saying to people ‘whatever you’re feeling is normal and we can help you’. I really feel like the more normalised it is, the more people will get the help they need.”

Being part of the vaccination programme is not the only way Abbie has helped. Last year, she volunteered with the For the Love of Scrubs group, helping to make PPE for healthcare staff.

And she’s been wearing scrubs she made herself to vaccinate people.

As you can only apply to become involved in the volunteer vaccination programme if you’re over 18, Abbie is the youngest in Bourne and undoubtedly one of the youngest in the country. It also means she has had both doses of the vaccine herself.

“I’m definitely the baby of the group,” said Abbie. “The youngest nurse is 24. Everyone at the Galletly Practice has been hugely supportive and I couldn’t do it without them.”

Dr Rebecca Mitchell, a GP at Galletly, was full of praise for Abbie and her fellow volunteer vaccinator Kira Nichols, saying the practice would struggle without the support of vaccinators.

She said: “At the practice we have been so lucky to work with a number of volunteer marshals and vaccinators. Their work and time has been invaluable to the patient experience.

“They are all so modest but have made an enormous contribution towards improving the public health of Bourne – our schools and places of work are safer because our patients are being vaccinated at such a rapid pace.

“Abbie contacted us very early on when we asked for volunteers to help us marshal patients. She mentioned her interest in nursing and that she was trained as a vaccinator. She met our team and quickly settled in, offering us so much of her time and expertise, always with a smile on her face and sporting some beautiful scrubs!”

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