In 1958, Leslie Berkeley starred in his local paper as one of the first in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, to have the polio inoculation. In the 1950’s there were 45,000 polio cases in the UK and relieved Mr Berkeley said: “Immunisation against polio is a fine thing.” Now the 86 year-old great grandfather is one of the first in Radcliffe to have both Covid jabs, telling the Daily Express: “This is so vital.”
The former magistrate stressed: “I would encourage others to have the Covid jab as soon as it’s offered to them. It’s that important.
“It is our best chance of getting back to doing the things we enjoy and seeing the people we love.”
When a 24 year-old councillor Leslie, wife Valerie and their ten-month-old daughter Denise became the second Radcliffe family to volunteer for the polio vaccine.
Afterwards Leslie told the local press: “Immunisation against Polio is a fine thing. I think everyone who has the opportunity ought to take advantage of it.”
Now a pensioner, Leslie lives with Valerie, 83, in the Broadfield Court McCarthy & Stone retirement home, in Prestwich, Greater Manchester.
Since the pandemic started the couple have only been able to see their 10 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren socially-distanced on their patio.
In late December, Leslie became one of the first in Prestwich to have the Covid-19 jab and now has had both coronavirus injections.
Describing the difference between the six decade-old polio vaccine rollout to the new jabs he added: “the polio vaccine felt like an incredibly significant moment.
“It really seemed like the beginning of the end of Polio and there was a real sense of positivity.
“I think it’s the same now with this incredible new Covid-19 inoculation.
“There’s obviously a long way to go but it’s quite remarkable that there’s already a vaccine and I’m lucky enough to have had it.
“The NHS have been brilliant when it comes to organising the vaccine roll out for everyone throughout this particularly scary time.
“I think it’s important we protect the most vulnerable in our communities and then begin working towards getting everyone vaccinated.
“Hopefully if we protect the elderly and vulnerable then we can start to slowly return to normal.”
The pair said living in a retirement complex has really helped them during the pandemic as they all have a great ‘Blitz’ spirit of camaraderie.
Leslie added: “It has obviously been hard not seeing friends and family throughout lockdown and it’s just not the same virtually.
“But the staff at McCarthy Stone have been in brilliant in keeping our spirits high during this time.
“Whether it’s been socially distanced singers outside on the car park they’ve all helped to maintain a sense of community here.”