A KEY-FIGURE in the vaccine rollout in Harwich has said how wonderful the town is, following kind-hearted residents’ efforts to support the programme.

Tracy Lawrie, 41, works for Community Voluntary Services Tendring and has helped to enroll and train more than 100 volunteers at the Fryatt Hospital.

She believes, thanks to the efforts of the community, the town is on its way back to a sense of normality.

Mrs Lawrie said: “It has been brilliant. Within ten days, more than 200 residents had put their names down saying they wanted to help and so we quickly got everyone together and enrolled them.

“Now we have an army of volunteers ready to help bring hope to the town.

“For me, it has been amazing. In my normal role I run activities like friendship cafés and I speak to all the members and I can see how lonely they have become.

“People have become so isolated and too scared to leave their houses.

“They are relieved this programme is up and running which will enable them to leave the house with less worry; they can be happy and live their life to the full.

“I feel proud to say I live and work in Harwich and have been a part of something so important.

“Everyone who has volunteered their time - and donations we have received - shows what a wonderful town we live in.

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“I think I am lucky to have a job where I can help bring help to the people who have struggled in the last year.”

As part of her role Mrs Lawrie helps to run Volunteer Essex, so when the Fryatt Hospital was announced as a vaccination centre last month, the group was approached to get as many volunteers as possible for the programme.

There are 90 volunteers who give up their time at the Fryatt, with 25 needed every day to support the process.

Mrs Lawrie added: “You volunteer so people can come and receive their vaccine and get their lives back. Many of these people are lonely and are missing their loved ones.

“By volunteering you are helping enable them to get back out into the world again. You help others and along the way it helps yourself too, you feel a real sense of pride.

“We’ve heard some wonderful stories. Some volunteers have been suffering mentally from being at home and others are young mothers who have spent a lot of time with their children and need adult interaction.

“Coming to the vaccination centre gives people a purpose away from their repetitive life they have lived every day for the last year.

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“It makes them want to get up in the morning and be excited to help others.”

The enthusiasm for the vaccine has been obvious.

Mrs Lawrie said: “I spoke to one gentleman who was getting vaccinated on his 90th birthday.

“He had dressed up in a full suit and tie to get his vaccine, saying he hadn’t been out of the house for a year and had dressed in his finest outfit to commemorate the date.

“I think the progress shows we are now on track to returning to some normality, there is reason to be optimistic.

“You see the anxiety on people’s faces when they walk through the door, some of them haven’t been out for nearly a year and have become frail.

“They come into the hospital quite frightened and they are so happy when they leave.

“You can see the relief on their faces where they’re thinking soon they might be able to see their grandchildren.”