TELEVISION personality Richard Hammond has thanked his fellow volunteers who have helped the Wye Valley NHS Trust during the current Covid-19 pandemic.

Across the Trust dozens of volunteers have faithfully given up their time daily and weekly to support medical staff.

This has meant nurses and other clinical staff have been able to spend more time caring for patients.

It has also meant patients getting their medication on time – whether they were in a hospital bed or self-isolating or shielding at home.

Jane Ives, the managing director of the Trust, said this army of volunteers “made the difference” for both staff and patients and contributed hugely to the response to the outbreak in Herefordshire.

“There are simply too many volunteers to name them all," he said.

"They’ve been amazing and have stepped in when we were under a great deal of pressure.

“They, alongside our staff, have been doing an amazing job to help the Trust provide the best care it can throughout the pandemic.”

In recent months many existing volunteers increased their hours and doubled up to provide extra cover on weekends as they supported the Trust’s reception area to help deliver patient belongings and messages to loved ones on wards, escorted patients around the hospital and helped distribute PPE around the Trust.

As a show of thanks, Jane met some of the volunteers and thanked them personally outside the County Hospital this week.

Among the volunteers were the Trust’s “Pharmy Army” which worked behind the scenes to ensure vulnerable and shielded patients received deliveries of medicines in a timely way.

The team of volunteers included the Severn Freewheelers (the local volunteer transport service which also provides Blood Bikes – which are looking for new riders), local volunteer drivers and local company TM Factors who between them made more than 700 journeys during the last four months.

Among the volunteers in the "Pharmy Army" was Mr Hammond of Top Gear fame who has a property in Herefordshire

He was unable to attend the thank you event but sent the Trust a video to thank volunteers.

In the video, he said: "Fellow members of the Pharmy Army.

"I know that the Trust wants to thank you for your incredible work. Over four months of the Covid-19 crisis over 700 patients had often essential drugs delivered thanks to your hard work, so you should be proud.

"You should be proud at how well, how quickly and how seemlessly you have integrated with the many hundreds of other volunteers across many other activities that support the great work of the NHS locally and beyond.

"Thank you too for allowing little old me to briefly count himself amongst your number."

During the outbreak the Trust’s pharmacy volunteers made more than 5,000 deliveries (covering an estimated 750 miles) from the hospital pharmacy to wards and departments across the County Hospital site.

“There’s no doubt that having these volunteers released nursing staff back to the wards to focus on patient care,” said Tony McConkey, the Trust’s clinical director of pharmacy.

“A number of our core group of volunteers were unable to continue in their role due to shielding, so we’re extremely grateful for the new volunteers we were able to welcome during the last four months.”