In January a call went out to ordinary Mancunians, asking them to step forward and volunteer to help successfully roll out the city’s Covid-19 mass vaccination programme.

People turned out in their thousands, with nearly 3,000 volunteers in total pledging to help. Working as stewards and marshals at vaccination centres popping up throughout Manchester, they play an essential part in ensuring patients getting their Covid jab are as safe as possible.

As of February 21, volunteers have given 24,570 hours of their time helping vaccination sites continue to operate.

One of those volunteers was David McLenachan, 64, from Bury. As he carried out his stewarding duties he decided that as semi-professional photographer, he would begin to take portraits of his fellow volunteers.

One of the most common sights since the outbreak of the pandemic has been people wearing a mask or face covering. This was something that David couldn’t help but notice when stood on his shifts, the only visible part of his colleagues’ faces being their eyes.

Over the course of a few weeks David amassed more than 100 pictures of the people he volunteered with. Even though his colleagues were of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds they unifying factor was the uniform they all wore.

David said: “With a mask on everyone is the same. When I was taking people’s photographs people would say ‘why am I smiling?’, but you can see it in their eyes. A person’s personality comes out even though we all look the same.”

In David’s words he didn’t have any “highfalutin” intentions for this piece of work, simply to take a few minutes each day to recognise that every person who volunteers, or patients who went through to get a vaccination were living through a piece of history.

Over time David amassed at first 50 photos, this grew to 100 before he decided to draw the line at 120.

While he has no plans to formally exhibit his work, he has wryly noted that if the Manchester International Festival were to come calling that would be a nice surprise.

He added: “I wanted to try and represent the vast number of people in Manchester who every day are doing an incredible job. They are great at what they are doing and in spite of everything, having fun doing it.

“It never ceases to amaze me how dedicated they all are. You can still see people smiling through their masks, if you look carefully.”


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