Meet the award-winning Romford vaccine volunteer who dedicates his retirement to helping Havering

Former mayor of Havering, John Mylod, with award-winner Eric Willson

Former mayor of Havering, John Mylod, with award-winner Eric Willson - Credit: Eric Willson

An award-winning Havering vaccination volunteer has spoken about his motivations for dedicating retirement to helping others.

For 16 months during the Covid pandemic, Eric Willson volunteered six days a week at Victoria Hospital on Pettits Lane in Romford.

The 76-year-old spent his days meeting and greeting visitors, showing patients around and directing them on where to get their jabs.

He said: “We had to ask the questions like, ‘is this your certain vaccination?’ and ‘have you got your card?’ just to make sure they were there at the right time for their vaccination.’’

Before retiring a few years ago, Eric worked in mental health for around seven years as a project care assistant. 

In this role, he “looked after people when they came out of hospital”.

Eric added: “I loved it, I really did, helping people get back into the community.’’

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Being recently retired, Eric has taken the opportunity to volunteer at several different locations in the community in the past few years.

“I just decided I would help out people doing a bit of gardening here, a bit of gardening there, and then this came up and I thought ‘right!’ and I just did it."

In addition to this, he also volunteered at a GP for eight weeks while building work was being done.

Shortly before the former mayor of Havering, John Mylod, lost his seat in the May elections and was replaced by Cllr Trevor McKeever, then-Cllr Mylod held two Civic Awards ceremonies on April 8 and 22 to recognise Havering's heroes for their contributions to the local community.

Eric was one of dozens to receive a medal and certificate in acknowledgement of his efforts.

Eric Willson's Havering Mayor's Civic Awards medal 2022

Eric won a medal in the Mayor's Civic Awards this April - Credit: Eric Willson

Mr Mylod said: “It’s always a great honour and a privilege to celebrate those in our community who go above and beyond to help other residents.

“These two award ceremonies were all about shining a light on these efforts and thanking those awarded on behalf of our borough.”

A group photo of all the Havering Mayor's Civic Award winners in April 2022

A group photo of the Mayor's Civic Award winners in April - Credit: Havering Council

Eric has taken some time off from volunteering to enjoy a well-deserved holiday, but is now back and ready to find future opportunities in the community.