‘I’m only a van driver,’ says one man on the front line, ‘but everyone’s going above and beyond’

Support us and go ad-free

As a delivery driver for the NHS, Dave Holt is experiencing the most intense working conditions of his professional life.

In the first of a series of profiles looking at workers on the front line of the battle against Covid-19 in the UK, the 49-year-old from Farnborough tells the PA news agency what life is like right now.

What was a normal working day like before coronavirus?

I work for Berkshire Surrey Pathology Services. We serve all the surgeries around the South East of England. All the pathology departments of these hospitals work together. We go out and collect specimens, drop off mail, absolutely anything that needs transporting. We all have our set routes, so every day was just a normal driving-a-van day. It was the same thing every day.

NHS delivery driver Dave Holt
Dave Holt says the pace of life has accelerated since Covid-19 hit the UK (Dave Holt/PA)

How has that changed now?

The pace of life has accelerated pretty dramatically. It’s a proper team effort, all hands to the deck. We’re doing lots of resupplying, we’re driving around picking up samples, getting stuff moved around, making sure that the hospitals have got their supplies. Some of the staff have had to self-isolate. We’ve gone from doing one route to doing two or three drivers’ routes on our own. I’m only a van driver, I do as I’m told, but you can clearly see everybody’s pulling together, everybody’s doing beyond everything.

What’s it like being involved in the fight against coronavirus?

The way I look at it is quite simple: you guys have paid your tax and National Insurance – it’s my job to do what I’m told. That’s how I go out every single day. Yes, it preys on my mind, yes there are times when I might have my own feelings but they have to stay at the back of my mind: I’ll go home and cry my eyes out to my missus, or let my emotions run wild with her, but when I’m at work all that has got to stay at the back of my mind. I’ve just got to focus on the job in hand.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free
How do you cope with the increased stress?

When I come home I’m so tired and mentally exhausted of what I’ve seen that literally I just pass out, I just go to sleep. Bang. I turn the news off, I watch movies, I watch Star Trek, I play my computer games, just to shut myself away from it and recharge myself and think when I get up the following morning ‘right, bang, here we go again, off we go’. That’s how I deal with it.

St Peter’s Hospital near Chertsey, Surrey
Dave makes deliveries at hospitals around Surrey and Berkshire (Steve Parsons/PA)

Who do you think the heroes of this pandemic are?

It’s amazing to me that people in society that have been classified as shall we say at the bottom of the rung are the ones right now that are keeping the country going. The people in the shops, the bus drivers, the refuse collectors. They’re the heroes. The police officers, the ambulance drivers – all the people that are out there now keeping us all going. Even the people that are listening and staying in, sitting at home bored. I see heroism in a different form in different people every day.

What do you make of the public’s support for the NHS?

The people that are out there clapping at night – it does make a difference. It makes you feel that you’re wanted and needed. I went into a garage to fill up with fuel and the guy behind the counter said, ‘Can I get you a coffee mate? It’s on the house’. There were three or four other people, keeping their distance, and one of the guys shouted across to me and said, ‘We all appreciate what you’re doing, mate’. I have experienced some incredible generosity and some proper inspiring moments that, when I’ve felt a bit low, have given me a bit of a kick up the backside. It means a lot.

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us
  • Show Comments
    1. So “Just a Van Driver…” who it appears to be doing essential work every day. It is not the title that matters so much as the function. And lets be clear way more important, every day and twice on Sunday, than any Crispin Odey Hedge Fund grasping money loving **** ! Let’s see how many pound coins or £50 notes he can stuff into his veins when he needs a transfusion, if you aren’t there doing your job !!
      Drop the “Just”. Mostly people don’t say it but appreciate the NHS as a whole yourself included. Nothing wrong with working class humility, so long as you don’t denigrate your role by referencing it against any of the selfish creed.

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.