An out of work pilot from Clare is playing an integral part in the Covid vaccination programme
An airline pilot who lost his job because of the coronavirus pandemic says he is glad to be ‘making a difference’ by being a Covid vaccinator at centres in Suffolk and Essex.
Paul Sant, of Clare, was made redundant last summer from his job as a pilot with Titan Airways, less than six months after joining the Stansted-based airline, due to the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the travel industry.
Prior to joining Titan, the 56-year-old, spent 21 years working for Thomas Cook as a pilot, the last ten years of those as a training pilot.
His pilot skills were first honed in the Royal Navy, which he joined as a 21-year-old, going on to fly helicopters with the Fleet Air Arm.
For the past few weeks however, Paul has been working as a vaccinator at a number of centres, including the one at the Unity Schools Partnership’s offices in Haverhill, run by the Essex University NHS Foundation Trust.
Paul, who has lived in Clare for 17 years, but grew up in the Woodbridge area of Suffolk, said: “It seemed like an excellent opportunity to help be part of the solution for this awful crisis.”
He has so far also worked at vaccination centres at Chelmsford Racecourse and the former Riverwalk School in Bury St Edmunds and vaccinates about 100 people per day.
So far he estimates he has vaccinated upwards of 1,000 people.
Although he has flown all over the world in his normal day job, being a vaccinator is giving him a new perspective.
Paul, who is married to Helen, said: “I do find it fascinating, just meeting the whole of society, the whole cross section and it is something that as an airline pilot I couldn't say I tended to do, I might stand by the door and welcome people on to the a aircraft, but I was often too busy to be able to do that.
“It’s really nice to get out and meet everyone because you do meet all sorts of characters, and hopefully I can make a bit of a difference and help to get ourselves out of this situation.
“It does feel very good to be doing something because I spent a long time last year not doing much at all.
“I really want to be part of the solution because these airlines, although we have got to do the right thing and follow the Government advice, some of the airlines, if they have a similar summer to last year they will go out of business and this is going to have a huge fallout for people’s livelihoods.”