Here at Isle of Wight RFC, we’re aware of some of our members who have had direct involvement with the current pandemic, in one way or another. We’ve invited them to have a chat with us and tell us a bit more about what they’ve been doing and how they’re coping in these strange times. Next up is club House & Grounds officer and current player Kevin Blackburn!
- Tell us a little about your occupation and what you’ve been up to at work lately.
I work for a company called Adams Morey. We’ve had the contract for the upkeep of NHS vehicles for years, so we’ve always looked after ambulances, doctor’s cars, all the NHS vehicles in use at the hospital. Obviously it’s a more crucial time than ever to have those on the road. But we’ve been reduced to a skeleton staff. The majority of the staff, including office staff, have been furloughed. So we’re just trying to maintain those vehicles and deal with any breakdowns.
We also look after fleets of lorries for companies such as DHL, Steve Porter, etc. They’re of course ensuring food and parcel deliveries at the moment.
A difficulty can be in sourcing parts for certain vehicles, with certain car dealerships closed. Luckily most of the ambulances are Mercedes, who are still open.
I’m on the on-call rota out of hours normally, but because of colleagues being furloughed, I’ve basically been on call ever since the lockdown began! I’m on call for lorries and there are fewer of them on the road, so it’s not been too bad in that respect. But it’s kept my alcohol consumption down!
- Thanks for what you’re doing! Switching our focus to the Isle of Wight RFC, you’re our resident House & Grounds chief. The club has been mothballed since mid-March – what kind of challenges does that bring?
Well, the club is deserted these days, and as the clubhouse itself is somewhat isolated, there’s the concern that something could happen and we might not know about it for a while. We have to make sure that someone’s keeping an eye from time to time.
Luckily, we managed to get the pitches aerated pre-lockdown. I had some plans to get them sanded and seeded in advance of the 2020-21 season which have had to be postponed. We also had plans for renovation of parts of the clubhouse, in conjunction with the NatWest RugbyForce weekend in late June, which has been postponed too. So now it’s a case of looking at what we can do before playing starts up again, or whether we’ll have to spruce up and renovate at the same time as starting to play again.
- How are you personally finding the current lockdown?
I’m fortunate and unfortunate in a way, maybe. I’m still going to work and still doing full-time hours which is fortunate. I get paid and get out of the house, not just stuck at home. But like so many people, in some ways you’d rather be at home safe and not putting yourself at risk. We do have to get into ambulances to do our work, and you don’t always know who’s been in there and whether there might be infected surfaces. We do have gloves to protect us but they are sometimes in short supply. We have recently got disinfectant sprays so that we can spray the whole cab of a vehicle down.
I used to go to the gym a lot, but have set up a home gym. Then again I have been actively going out and running, which I never did before, so physically it’s probably been a good thing for me! I suppose you could go two ways during lockdown – some might be really fit and some might be the opposite!
- What do you miss most about rugby and IWRFC?
I just like the routine of training during the week, Tuesday and Thursday or whatever, and then the game on Saturday. You know where you are during the week and it gives you some purpose. And just having a laugh, seeing the lads. You see them every week, and then you’re not seeing them at all.
- Finally, a reason to be cheerful?
The most positive thing for me….I’m probably fitter than I’ve ever been! Hopefully it does me favours when the season returns and I can start playing rugby again! My wife’s learning to speak Spanish now that she’s got the time – hats off to her, because I couldn’t do that!
I think it’s positive to see how so many people are actually taking up new hobbies and learning new skills while they’ve got the opportunity. This whole thing has also made people appreciate family more. Maybe some of us actually miss people, rather than taking them for granted.
Cheers Kev! Hope to see you soon.