Fighting Covid from their front rooms
Heroes have come in all shapes and sizes in the last year – from NHS and shop workers to communities banding together.
This week, our spotlight falls on two retired men who are doing their bit to stop the spread of Covid in Clydesdale.
It’s fair to say Kenny Rogerson has dealt with people from all walks of life, having served as a police constable in Lanarkshire for 30 years.
After retiring five years ago, he worked with a local transport firm but when the pandemic hit he was furloughed and then laid off. The dad of two and grandad of four wasn’t idle for long.
He took on a new role as an NHS Lanarkshire contact tracer last October.
Kenny (57) said: “My dad worked at Law Hospital as a plumber and my mum and wife Karen sterilised all the instruments there.
"It was a big part of our lives so it was nice to join the family business!
"The pandemic is hopefully a once in a lifetime thing; when I look back in 20 years time, I’ll know I did something to help.”
Kenny works from home but is part of a close-knit team. Each day, they call people who have tested positive and trace anyone they’ve been in close contact with ... to stop the pandemic’s spread.
Sometimes it is a simple process – the person lives alone and has not left the house. In other cases, it’s much more complicated.
Kenny’s 30 years in the force has served him well.
He said: “I phoned one man whose parent had died that morning; the police and paramedics had just left.
"He had only tested positive the day before and was still in shock.
"It was something I had dealt with in the police so I was able to explain to him who he should phone.
"I’ve lost both my parents too so I know how it feels.”
While Kenny has dealt with angry callers, thankfully the vast majority of people are understanding.
He added: “Most people, I’d say 95 per cent, are happy to speak to you and comply with isolating as they know we’re all in this together.”
For retired engineering lecturer Mark Ingram, working as a contact tracer is like no other job he’s done before.
But the 61-year-old dad of three and grandad of four from Carluke is relishing the role he took up last September. For he too has joined the family business.
Mark explained: “My wife Susan and daughter Fiona (Allan) both work for NHS Lanarkshire and I saw how demanding their job was.
"I wanted to do something to help, then I saw they were looking for contact tracers.
"It's like no job I’ve ever done before; for a short period of time, you are part of someone’s family.”
Some people are concerned they will be reported for breaking the rules; it’s Mark’s job to reassure them.
He said: “We’re not there to judge, we simply want to reduce the risk of onward transmission; to do that, we need to know who people have been in contact with.”
Mark knows only too well the toll Covid can take; a close friend died in November.
He added: “I’d spoken to him a few times in the hospital but the last time he messaged to say he couldn’t talk. A week later, his partner told us he had passed away.
"When it’s so close to home, it hits you; sadly, most people can relate to that now.”
Many NHS staff members have redeployed during the last 12 months, as well as those who have joined contact tracing and vaccination teams from outside the service.
NHS Lanarkshire chief executive Heather Knox said: “I’d like to thank NHS Lanarkshire staff for their flexibility, dedication and resilience in the face of this unprecedented challenge.
"I’d also like to acknowledge all those who have joined our ranks to help keep all of us safe.
"We’ve had nearly 38,000 cases in our health board area alone but that number would have been much higher had it not been for the unswerving patience and sacrifice of the community, who saw their NHS change so much in the last year and helped us by sticking with the restrictions.”