A place of reflection and worship became a place of healing and hope as Lichfield Cathedral opened its medieval nave to become a new Covid-19 vaccination centre, working to administer jabs to more than 1,000 people.
The building, which is Britain’s oldest three-spired cathedral, was set up with field hospital-style facilities and waiting areas all through the building, including the central aisle, and a team of volunteers working to help things run smoothly.
Queues from the inside to the outside of the cathedral were kept moving as quickly as it was safe to do so, with the Dean of Lichfield, Rev. Adrian Dorber among those helping people to the vaccination points and rest areas.
Rev. Dorber had offered the cathedral as a space for vaccinations when the news broke in the summer and said he was absolutely delighted for the building to become a vaccination centre.
He said: “Jesus began his ministry by healing people and it’s part of the DNA of the Christian gospel to help those seek relief from sickness and illness, so it’s just a huge privilege to be able to do this and the right thing to be doing.
“The thing is that it’s a very large and airy building and it’s easy to keep it ventilated with lots of fresh air, plus it’s got lots of space inside for the inevitable queue, so there are lots of advantages to using this great, airy, medieval building.”
The atmosphere around the cathedral was described as warm and friendly, with those awaiting their vaccinations chatting with the volunteers, who were described as “buzzing” at being part of the cathedral team.
Rev. Dorber said around 1,200 people had come through the cathedral, the majority of who were in the highest category of risk, and he said it had been an “age rich” crowd passing through on the day.
He said the cathedral would be open for further vaccinations over two dates next week once it receives deliveries of the Pfizer vaccine and said he hoped people would come to receive the vaccine in a comfortable and welcoming environment.
He said: “We find that most people who come here don’t have strong faith connections, but find the building inspiring and reassuring, so I hope people feel comfortable when they come here.
“I would also say that we should reject any conspiracy theories about the vaccine and work for the general good, as everyone who is vaccinated is less of a risk to the general population.”
Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant also offered his own praise for the cathedral on social media.
He tweeted: “This just has to be the most glamorous vaccine centre in Britain! They came in the Middle Ages for the cure. They still come today.”
Councillor Doug Pullen, Leader of Lichfield District Council, said: “I am very thankful Lichfield Cathedral has been able to open its doors to the community to offer this vital service.
“It must be quite something to get vaccinated in such a beautiful building with so much history. The sooner everyone in Lichfield District, especially our older and more vulnerable residents, get vaccinated the better.”