Trinity Hall TogeTHer

We recognise the many ways Trinity Hall students, staff, Fellows and alumni are helping the community during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Your stories have reached us. Stories of alumni on the front line, medical students helping in hospitals, postgraduates and Fellows involved in research and alumni donating PPE. Amongst our alumni are numerous key workers, volunteers and those who have adapted their businesses to help the wider community. Members of Trinity Hall are using their skills and entrepreneurial spirit to keep communities in touch and informed.

Thank you.

Here are some of the people and stories that have reached us. We would love to hear from you too.


Volunteer Vaccinator with Royal Volunteer Service and St John Ambulance +-

In January 2021, I signed up with Royal Volunteer Service (RVS) to help with the Covid Vaccination effort. Through RVS, I also signed up with St. John Ambulance (SJA) to train as a Volunteer Vaccinator. I have no medical training (my background is Engineering, Banking and Finance!), so I looked forward to learning some new skills and to helping in the fight against Covid-19.

The application process involved a telephone interview with SJA, as well as having two referees to support my application, and a DBS (Disclosure & Barring Service) check. I asked my former boss at Network Rail (I had retired in October 2019 from NR) to be one referee and Dr Rachelle Stretch at Trinity Hall to be the other – I am pleased to say both readily agreed to act as my referee!

I then embarked on quite a lot of online training both directly with SJA and also with the Health Education England/ NHS elearning. The training included both general training, e.g. manual handling, and Covid vaccination-specific training, including both the AstraZeneca and Pfizer BioNTech vaccines. Whilst quite time-consuming to do, I did find the online training generally quite well thought out, if a bit repetitive at times, and I learned a lot.

The final step in the training process was a full day of practical training with SJA in Redhill at the end of February. This was a great day of practical learning about the three volunteer roles along with 10 other like-minded individuals all keen to help in the vaccination programme:

Volunteer Advocate – meeting and greeting people for their vaccination at the vaccination centre and helping them through the process prior to vaccination;

  • Volunteer Vaccinator – administering the vaccine
  • Volunteer Carer – providing care post-vaccination whilst the person is at the centre for the required 15 minutes after their vaccination.

As well as being trained in the actual administering of vaccine – with the help of foam pads acting as dummy arms! – we were also trained in basic first aid, including the use of a defibrillator.

My first shift with Royal Voluntary Service as a Volunteer Steward at the Wimbledon Vaccination Centre was at the end of April: 500 people were scheduled to be vaccinated that day.

Philip Nias (1976)

Investigating the viral tropism and neutralisation of coronavirus +-

I matriculated at Trinity Hall in 2016 to study Natural Sciences. I stayed on to do Part 3 Biochemistry, having done Part 2 Genetics, graduating in absentia in 2020. My final Lent term in Cambridge was brought to an abrupt end in March as my plans rapidly changed from spending the spring break in Cambridge to study, to spending Easter at home just in case, to realising that my final term, and exams, would have to take place online! Having spent most of the first lockdown studying and working on my dissertation I was able to graduate with a 2:1 in the summer and immediately started looking for jobs or PhD programs that were still hiring despite the pandemic.

I was lucky enough to find a PhD place in St George’s University Hospital London working on the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and after a rapid turnaround between submission and interview I was offered the place to start work in October. Since arriving at the university I have been getting to grips with learning many of the techniques I will need throughout my PhD, researching the literature surrounding my project and starting to collect data both to allow the optimisation and development of new assays and model systems and to contribute to my thesis more directly. My primary areas of work so far have included infecting cultured cells with live virus and being trained to work safely with this pathogen and setting up an artificial experimental system to allow investigation of viral tropism and neutralisation in a more controlled and easily manipulatable setting. I have also written a 4,000-word literature review on the origin and microbiology of SARS-CoV-2 as well as its possible effects on different parts of the human body. Alongside this, I have helped out in the university’s SARS-CoV-2 testing initiative and have been assisting with the training of a masters student in the lab.

I’ve been living in London and working on this project for almost six months and although it’s been challenging moving to a new city and starting to a new project mid-pandemic I’m enjoying the opportunity to work in such an important and fast-moving field. I’m extremely grateful for all the new friends I’ve made at George’s since moving to London and look forward to a chance to meet up and catch up with my friends from Trinity Hall again once lockdown restrictions are over!

Matthew Bagley (2016)


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