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‘We all have our part to play’ - Fawcett

Doctor and Bristol Bears Women second row, Clea Fawcett has been overwhelmed by the level of support shown for her and her colleagues during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

From crossing the white line at Shaftesbury Park, to fighting on the frontline on the COVID-19 ward at Yeovil District Hospital, 2020 has been a ‘whirlwind’ for all thus far, especially those working in the NHS. 

“This season has been a whirlwind for me in so many ways and has brought so many new challenges not least of which was learning how to balance work and playing rugby for the first time in my life, said Fawcett. 

“Medical school only prepares you so much for working life as a doctor, there is so much more learning on the job and it’s been a real challenge, albeit a very rewarding one. The pandemic came and has thrown an absolute curveball - no one would have thought that 8 months into our first job we would be on the frontline of a worldwide crisis. 

“I know I couldn’t have reached this position today without rugby and without the teammates and coaches I’ve had over the years. Rugby training/matches and the gym are normally my main outlets for a stressful day at work, and not having those has been a big change to get used to, but everyone at Bears, our friends, family and colleagues are all behind us 100% of the way.” 

Having qualified as a doctor in 2019 Fawcett, like many others, has been thrown in at the deep-end in the fight against COVID-19 with the second row spending her long and draining shifts draped in PPE. 

“I work in the Emergency Department (ED) at Yeovil District Hospital, and every day has brought its own new challenges.  

“We have a large part to play in our patient’s experience, and now more than ever I think patients are pretty scared when they come to hospital.  We can do so much to help relieve their anxieties and begin treatment as the first point of call in hospital.

“Saying all that, the morale amongst the staff is high, and we’re so united as a hospital. Absolutely everyone is supporting each other; doctors, nurses, cleaners, porters; we’re all on the same team and it definitely shows! 

“Before the pandemic I used to work 8-hour shifts and 1 in 4 weekends, I’m now doing 9 hour shifts and 1 in 3 weekends. 

“The majority of patients we see are suspected cases, but we are still seeing the regular stuff, people who have fallen over and broken bones, people presenting with chest pain, or possible strokes, but it’s nowhere near as much as we were seeing back in February.  

“Even so, I’m coming home from each shift more exhausted than I used to be, despite not having seen as many patients.  I think because the environment we’re working in is more intense and, it might sound silly, but wearing extra layers of PPE all day is pretty tiring in itself - imagine doing preseason conditioning on a hot summer’s day in your skins.

“I honestly love my job though; I look forward to going in every day and having a part to play and I think we’ll all have learnt a lot from this.”

Fawcett and her colleagues across the country have seen a staggering amount of support over the last 6-8 week with the country coming to a stand-still at 8pm on Thursday evenings to applaud the NHS workers from windows, gardens and balconies. 

“The first time it happened I was in tears! I live in the centre of Yeovil town, and there’s not many residents around here, so that first evening caught me off-guard. 

“You could hear it echoing down the high street and the flat’s we can see were out on their balconies, it was amazing, and it meant so much.  

“Each week I feel like there’s more and more people getting involved and my family send messages and videos of people clapping in their streets. It never fails to make me a bit emotional, and I know everyone working on the frontline really appreciates the support.”

Clea is one of four Bristol Bears Women players who are NHS workers alongside; Simi Pam, Alice Middleton and Phoebe Beer. 

Finally, facing another three weeks minimum in lockdown, Clea has a message for all of us at home.

“Keep doing what you’re doing! Staying at home is the best way to show us your support and it has made such a difference already. Everyone is playing such a big part by following the lockdown advice and it’s important to remember that each one of us is helping so many people.”


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