Published: 13:05, 23 August 2021
| Updated: 13:22, 23 August 2021
More than 100,000 Covid-19 vaccines were delivered to patients at Gravesend's mass hub over the 29 weeks it was open.
The centre, in The Woodville theatre in Gravesend, shut its doors yesterday (Sunday) after the last visitors received their vaccine doses.
The Mayor of Gravesham Cllr Lyn Milner and Gravesham Borough Council’s chief executive Stuart Bobby visited yesterday afternoon (Sunday) to thank the NHS staff and volunteers on the theatre’s last day as a large vaccination centre.
A plaque commemorating The Woodville’s role in the fight against Covid-19 was unveiled, and a cake iced with the words "104, 434 - we smashed it!" was cut.
Rita Odueke, an IT project manager, was the last booking of the day. Rita, 32, had both her jabs at The Woodville. She said: "It was so convenient and I'm happy to have had my second jab on the last day here."
Also among the last patients were Lisa and Nigel Kay, from Gravesend, who are both key transport workers and wanted to get their jabs completed to protect their colleagues and their daughters, Lola and Daisy.
The theatre had been transformed back in February into a mass hub, run by the Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust.
Speaking before the plaque unveiling, the Mayor revealed she had been one of the many volunteers to have worked at the centre since it opened.
Cllr Milner said: “We were honoured to be asked by our friends at the NHS to host a large vaccination centre here at the civic heart of the Borough of Gravesham and had no hesitation in making The Woodville available for such a vital role in the fight against Covid-19.
“To have administered more than 100,000 vaccines here is an exceptional achievement.
“I was one of many volunteers to have worked here alongside the team from the NHS and have seen for myself the hope for a return to a more normal life the vaccine programme has given so many people.
“Some were moved to tears by the experience, others laughed along with the team here, and many took the opportunity to grab a photograph to mark an important moment in their lives. All were grateful to receive the vaccine.
“History will record that, in the most unusual and frightening of times, The Woodville became a beacon of hope and reassurance for thousands of people from Gravesham and beyond.
“On behalf of all those who received their vaccine here, and on behalf of Gravesham Borough Council, we would like to thank the NHS staff and all those volunteers who made that possible.”
A spokesman for Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust said: "Since February, our amazing team has delivered more than 100,000 vaccines here.
"We’d like to say a huge thank you to the staff at the Woodville and Gravesham Borough Council, to all of our vaccination staff and volunteers and to the whole community of Gravesend, who have supported us from the start."
Staff at The Woodville are now preparing to reopen the venue in its more usual role as a theatre and arts centre.
Gravesham council's cultural manager Mandy Hare said: “While the theatre has been closed to shows and audiences, both it and our cultural activity have continued to be busy.
“Throughout the difficult first months of lockdown in 2020, the auditorium area was used as a base to compile emergency food parcels for those clinically extremely vulnerable residents of the borough who were required to self-isolate but who had no support network to help them.
“Then, this year it has played its role in the roll-out of vaccinations.
“Whether online or in more recent months through outdoor events, we have at the same time managed to keep entertaining our loyal followers.
“The outdoor performances in particular have been really popular, and while we will continue with those we simply cannot wait to welcome audiences back to The Woodville again.”
There are still plenty of places you can get your Covid-19 vaccination, from bookable appointments to walk-in clinics. Click here for the latest information.
For full details of what’s coming up, visit www.woodville.co.uk