pilot joins St John Ambulance Vaccination Volunteer force

A pilot for leading leisure airline,, is transferring the skills he has mastered in the cockpit to work as an St John Ambulance Vaccination Volunteer and help in the delivery of the Covid-19 vaccination programme.  

Captain Terry Nicholson, aged 52 from Loughborough, who is not currently flying due to the pandemic, was recently accepted as a St John Ambulance Vaccination Volunteer and is now responsible for helping administer the vital vaccines at his local vaccination centre in Leicester.

The pilot, who has worked for for over seven years and is based at East Midlands Airport, is one of more than 30,000 volunteers recruited and trained by St John Ambulance to support with the national vaccination programme. After meeting a strict selection criteria and receiving appropriate training from the charity, as well as passing various assessments, Terry was recruited as a Vaccination Volunteer and has recently completed his first shift.  

Terry said: “As flights are currently grounded, I’ve not been flying and have a lot more time on my hands. I decided to volunteer as a vaccinator, as I was keen to turn my spare time into a positive thing and play my part in the rollout of the vaccine. After all, the sooner we get back to some sort of normal, the sooner I can get back in the sky and take customers on their holidays! It felt great to complete my first shift and I came away feeling like I’d given something back to the community.” 

At the start of the pandemic, Terry signed up to the Royal Voluntary Service and had been volunteering as a Check In and Chat Volunteer before stepping forward to support with the coronavirus vaccination programme. As a Check In and Chat volunteer, Terry provided short term telephone support to people who were at risk of loneliness as a consequence of self-isolation. With Terry already volunteering, he was immediately selected as a Vaccination Volunteer when he put himself forward for the role.  

Terry adds: “My wife has had to shield, so I understand how isolating and lonely it must be for people who are living alone. This was the reason why I first wanted to get involved in the Check In and Chat service. Then, when I heard that they were looking for people to come forward and administer the vaccine, I knew I had to apply. I wanted to help out in any way, learn new skills and do something that felt constructive and positive.” 

Terry believes that his career as a pilot has equipped him with the necessary skills to be a Vaccination Volunteer. “Part of my job as a pilot at is to make people feel at ease and in the best hands. Understandably, people can be a little nervous when getting a vaccine, especially the older generation who may have been shielding for the last 12 months and have had little or no contact with the outside world. As a Vaccination Volunteer, it is my job to make them feel comfortable and to assure them that they are in safe hands, while giving them the vaccine. I think my time as a pilot has definitely made me even more suitable in helping to deliver the vaccines.” 

For now, Terry is happy to play his part in the rollout of the UK vaccination programme but is looking forward to returning to his day-to-day job as a pilot. “Like everyone else, I’m looking forward to putting these difficult times behind us and returning to what I love doing best – taking to the skies and jetting people away on their much-loved holidays! I can’t wait to put my pilot’s uniform back on and wish everyone a happy holiday!” 

Terry is one of four pilots at East Midlands Airport who have come forward to help support the NHS during the Covid-19 pandemic. First Officer Thomas Milne and Senior First Officer, Justin Helliwell and Captain, Craig Strickland, are also volunteering with the NHS.