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‘Best present I could wish for’ – WWII veteran receives Covid-19 jab on 97th birthday

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Joan receiving the Covid-19 vaccine on her 97th birthday

A WWII veteran celebrating her 97th birthday has become the first Royal Star & Garter resident to receive a Covid-19 vaccine.


Joan Sprigg, who served in the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS), was given the jab at the charity’s Solihull Home on Wednesday, 6 January.


All 50 residents, plus staff members were given the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccination. Healthcare professionals opted for it to be administered in the Tudor Coppice Home’s large dining area, as it allowed social distancing and good ventilation.

WWII Navy veteran said: "I really encourage others to have it.”

Royal Star & Garter provides loving, compassionate care to veterans and their partners living with disability or dementia, at Homes in Solihull, Surbiton and High Wycombe.


Speaking afterwards, Joan said: “This is the best birthday present I could have wished for!”


Among other residents being vaccinated at the Home were Harry Southern, a Leading Seaman in the Navy who served in the Far East during WWII, and his wife of 70 years, Sue.

Harry's wife Sue receives the vaccine

Harry said: “This seems the best way we have of beating the virus, so I’m delighted Sue and I have received it. It didn’t hurt and I really encourage others to have it.”


Pauline Shaw, Director of Care, spoke about the importance of vaccines, and her delight that it was now available to Royal Star & Garter residents. She said: “My mother was permanently disabled from contracting a virus, poliomyelitis, in 1952 when she was just 26. The polio vaccination was made available in 1953 and has since prevented millions of people throughout the world from developing severe disability or dying. This is a living example of the impact of viruses and proof of the efficacy of vaccinations, as polio can now be prevented. The Covid vaccine will provide protection for our residents who are vulnerable or elderly.”


Residents at Royal Star & Garter’s Surbiton and High Wycombe Homes are due to receive their Covid-19 vaccines imminently.


For more information about the charity, go to

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