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Anti-vaccination protesters abuse staff and patients at Folca in Folkestone

By: Sam Williams swilliams@thekmgroup.co.uk

Published: 09:00, 20 July 2021

Updated: 14:10, 20 July 2021

An NHS boss has written a public letter condemning the actions of some anti-vaccination protesters who abused and intimidated staff as they delivered Covid-19 jabs to patients.

Around 60 people marched through Folkestone on Saturday holding banners and using megaphones to broadcast their scepticism over the vaccination and lockdown.

People protested in Folkestone on Saturday over the Covid vaccination. Photo: David Joseph Wright

It is reported that Piers Corbyn, who is former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's brother, was among those demonstrating.

Posters branded messages such as 'Stop the Clot Shot' and 'No jab or test passports'.

Photos show the crowd gathered at the harbour, before marching along The Leas - passing people enjoying Folkestone's Pride celebrations - before congregating in the town centre.

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Now, Paul Bentley, chief executive of the Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Folca vaccination site in the town centre, has hit out over the actions of some of the protesters.

He says they shouted abuse at the NHS staff working at the site, as well as at the public arriving to receive their jab.

The anti-vaxxers abused staff working at the Folca centre

He has also thanked people who supported and comforted the doctors and nurses after the demonstration.

In the open letter, Mr Bentley said: "Dear Folkestone resident or visitor,

"I want to say a public and very heartfelt thank you to everyone who took the time to support our team at the vaccination centre in Sandgate Road on Saturday afternoon, after a small but extremely vocal group of people decided to congregate outside.

"I wholly recognise and support the hard-won right to peaceful protest in this country, but when these take place I do not believe the protestor has the right to shout offensive abuse at NHS staff going about their completely lawful, and indeed vital business.

"The abusive language and intimidation directed at our hard-working team at Folca and at members of the public arriving to be vaccinated was an utter disgrace.

Around 60 people took part in the protest. Photo: David Joseph Wright

"I condemn it in the strongest terms and would ask that everyone, whatever your personal thoughts about vaccination, does the same.

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"What is heartening though are the reports from the day about the kindness of local people in coming forward with words of gratitude, comfort and support for our team during and after the event.

"I am also grateful for the support from our colleagues in Kent Police.

"Since January, the community of Folkestone has been endlessly generous, kind and welcoming to our colleagues at Folca; providing food, refreshments and services quietly and without hesitation.

"With your support we have been able to vaccinate so many people, reducing the risk for all.

The protesters pass The Leas. Video: David Joseph Wright

"You and the other people in Kent and Medway who do so much to support our vaccination programme represent the best of the United Kingdom, and I thank you unconditionally for having done so.

"Thank you."

Police have been approached for a comment.

A similar protest took place in Maidstone earlier this month, with worrying footage showing activists confronting people sat at bus stops and arguing with people in the street.

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