England Golf selector Sophie Walker didn’t expect to be handing out free swing lessons when she volunteered to help the NHS vaccine programme.
However, the Sky Sports presenter was more than happy to pass on some top tips from the car park of a vaccine centre to one gentleman while also doing her bit in the fight against Covid-19.
Six hour shifts at local centres in and around Manchester have given the former LET player a sense of purpose at a time when golf courses are closed, coaching work is limited and media activities have been curtailed.
But golf is never far from people’s minds and, as Walker assisted the elderly and vulnerable last week, one conversation quickly turned to the game.
“One chap in the line started talking to me about golf and said that he really admired the swing of PGA Tour pro Matthew Wolff,” admitted Walker with a smile.
“He said he used to be a Ben Hogan man, but now couldn’t bend his right elbow and Wolff’s swing with a straight right arm was something he could identify with!
“So, there we were mimicking different swings and the quick movement of the hips in the car park of the vaccine centre while he was waiting his turn to go in for his jab!
“It just shows you golf is never far away!”
Walker’s knowledge of the game and eye for a player allows her to fulfil a valuable role within the England Golf set-up as selector – constantly assessing the talented women and girl golfers striving to represent their country.
But with squads for 2021 picked, championships some months away and options now limited with the lockdown, the effervescent Walker decided to do a different kind of national service.
She explained: “Every aspect of my job has been affected by the pandemic to some extent – coaching, playing and media work.
“I needed a purpose to my days and a friend mentioned to me that he’d signed up as a volunteer and why didn’t I join him.
“I thought, ‘why not?’ and felt it was a really positive thing to do.
“We all see the vaccination programme a big move in the right direction and I’m happy to play a small part in the process.
“There is a danger that every day become Groundhog Day if you don’t do something to keep the mind active. I’m fortunate enough that I have the time to volunteer.
“It’s been a great experience helping people who are over the age of 75 – many of whom have hardly left the house in 10 months.
“There are people who haven’t spoken to a soul in months and if I can help in some small way by having a chat with them at a centre while they come in for their injection, then that’s great.
“If someone is worried about going in for the vaccine, or a little unsure of the process, I see it as my role to make them feel more comfortable.”
Alongside around 20 other volunteers, Walker works midweek shifts at centres near her home in the north west.
“I have my high vis jacket and a whistle to make sure things don’t get out of hand in the car park,” joked Walker who hopes to be back on our TV screens soon with the start of the LET season.
“My role is divided between the car park, performing a meet and greet service and then, after the administration of the Pfizer vaccine, spending time with people in the observation room where they have to remain for 15 minutes.
“I don’t know how long it will last, but while I’m needed and have the time on my hands to do it, I’m really happy to help out in any way I can.”
If you think you could follow Sophie’s example and help the vaccine programme as a volunteer then check out the NHS website for more details.