ONE of the world’s best Irish dancers has stepped out to perform life-saving coronavirus vaccinations in Rugby.
Alasdair Spencer – better known for performing as Don Dorcha the Dark Lord in Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance – is now playing a key role in the fight against Covid-19 by volunteering at the town’s vaccination centre at Locke House in Woodside Park.
Having already personally vaccinated enough people to fill the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry, he is now aiming for the Alexandra in Birmingham.
Alasdair, who lives in Rugby, has performed lead in many prestigious venues all over the world, from theatres in London’s West End and New York’s Broadway all the way up to stadiums and arenas.
But when the pandemic grounded the ongoing Lord of the Dance world tour, Alasdair decided he wanted to help the town return to normalcy.
So he got in touch with Gita Natarajan, the manager of Locke House where Rugby Health – a group of 12 GP surgeries – are working together to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine.
He applied to be a volunteer vaccinator and completed all the vaccination training in January.
“I thought that was fantastic,” said Alasdair. “Since being trained I have been going down to the clinic three or four days a week since it opened.
“My main motivation was to get the community better – and then I got to thinking that it would be cool if I could vaccinate enough people to fill a large theatre. Each time I vaccinate someone I think that is one more person who can come to see a show.”
Alasdair was in the thick of the world tour when the pandemic broke out.
He said: “In January of last year, we were actually in China and as they began locking down, our shows in Beijing during Chinese New Year were cancelled.
“As China’s lockdown expanded, we kept with our schedule and moved on to Taiwan where we did our shows there. After Taiwan we spent a couple weeks in Mexico and then we ended up in Germany around March time.
“By leaving Asia and North America behind we thought we had escaped the worst of the virus but then it started to get serious in Europe. Halfway through the tour of Germany, the remainder of our shows got cancelled and we were flown home on March 13 when we soon went into lockdown ourselves.
“With lockdowns and travel restrictions in place here in the UK and abroad there was little hope of ever getting back on stage in 2020. Thankfully, back in December we were lucky enough to do a tour of Taiwan where due to strict travel restrictions, testing and contact tracing, they have had about 900 cases and 10 deaths from COVID-19.
“After two weeks of mandatory hotel quarantine, a few weeks of shows and a taste of normal life without restrictions we then flew back home a week before Christmas.
“As we went straight back into lockdown and wanting to contribute to our return to normalcy, I decided to see if I could help out in the fight against Covid.”
The team at Locke House has so far vaccinated over 26,000 people – making it the leading local vaccination centre in Warwickshire.
Dr Norman Byrd, Clinical Director for the vaccination programme at Locke House, said: “Volunteers who have stepped forward from all walks of life have been invaluable to the Covid-19 vaccination programme.
“As one of the busiest GP-led local vaccination centres in the country, volunteers have been key to our success. Alasdair is a wonderful example of someone who has stepped forward to help the NHS during its hour of need, and we couldn’t be more proud.”
Alison Tonge, the Regional Director responsible for the rollout of the vaccine programme at NHS England and NHS Improvement in the Midlands, said: “The support of special volunteers like Alasdair has been vital in helping us to give more than 1.8million vaccinations in the West Midlands in just a few months.
“I would like to thank all our volunteers who have supported the vaccination programme. Their determination and dedication to help protect the most vulnerable should be applauded.
“It is never too late to take up the offer and I would urge anyone eligible who has yet to do so to come forward and protect yourself and others.”
People who have received a letter can log on to the national booking service at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination and choose from 107 large-scale vaccination centres or 195 pharmacy led sites.
Anyone unable to book online can call 119 free of charge, anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days a week.