Lewis soldier lends a hand on another island in the fight against Covid-19

A young Lewis soldier, Joe Macleod, was part of a platoon of 30 from the 1st Battalion Scots Guards, who were recently mobilised to support the only NHS Hospital on the Isle of Wight, St Mary’s as part of the national effort against Coronavirus.

Thursday, 16th April 2020, 3:40 pm
NHS Booking Clerk Georgia Blanchard being assisted by Guardsman Joe Macleod at St Mary's Hospital Isle of Wight for covid-19.

The platoon, who although based in Aldershot, Hampshire recruit across the whole of Scotland, have worked alongside their Army Reservist counterparts, the Isle of Wight Rifles transforming the Laidlaw Day Hospital, the Education Centre and the Outpatients Appointments and Records Unit into in-patient accommodation, increasing bed capacity from 200 to 400 and the number of intensive care beds from six to 18, with additional space for more if required.

Despite being on leave when the initial call for help came in, the soldiers were on 12 hours standby to move and with military precision completed their task in just eight days.

This involved the removal of a large amount of documentation and the conversion and transportation of beds from other areas on the island.

Guardsman Joe Macleod (20) was happy to assist, “We needed no encouragement, it’s great that we’re making such a difference. Coming from a smaller community, it’s important to me that I can do my part to help people have a speedy recovery and get back on their feet.”

To date, the Isle of Wight has had 53 confirmed cases of COVID-19 but with a population that is generally older than the national average, there is concern that many of its residents are at risk of the virus.

Maggie Oldham, Chief Executive of the Isle of Wight NHS Trust, explained: “We can’t underestimate the support they have given us, we have taken three areas and in a short time they have been made ready to receive patients.

“We would not have been able to transform the facilities without having these brave men and women working alongside us, giving us the extra support we needed to get this huge amount of work done as quickly as possible.”

The Scots Guards are one of the oldest Regiments in the British Army and have seen conflict in Afghanistan, Iraq and fought at the Battle of Waterloo.

Whilst the enemy may be invisible this time, the soldiers’ commitment to support the UK in its hour of need is as strong as ever.