Ilkley man trades pilot's cap for NHS scrubs as he vaccinates people in Leeds

A man from Ilkley traded his pilot’s cap for medical scrubs after deciding to join the NHS as a Covid vaccinator.

Edgar Woodhead working as a vaccinator and in his previous work as a pilot. Picture: Aviation Job Search
Edgar Woodhead working as a vaccinator and in his previous work as a pilot. Picture: Aviation Job Search

Edgar Woodhead, 22, opted to join the NHS after his aviation career was stalled as a result of the global pandemic.

Flights abroad were largely grounded at the start of the Covid outbreak, and despite brief periods when borders reopened for holidaymakers, the tourism industry remains hard hit.

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Choosing to temporarily stop pursuing his dream career path, Mr Woodhead decided to join Leeds Teaching NHS Hospitals Trust and help vaccinate people in the city.

He has since been awarded a courage and compassion badge by the Trust for his work.

Speaking to specialist job site Aviation Job Search, Mr Woodhead said he was “honoured” to have played a role in the response to the pandemic.

“It is nice to be recognised for being on the vaccination frontline," he said.

“Changing uniforms has allowed me to take a step back and realise there is a world beyond aviation.

“It has allowed me to experience firsthand our incredible NHS and appreciate that organisation a lot more.”

The former Ilkley Grammar school student was first inspired to become a pilot after spending his younger years watching aircraft at Leeds Bradford Airport.

He then studied air transport management before training to become a qualified commercial pilot.

Despite the pandemic delaying the beginning of his flying career, he said he has valued his time in the NHS and hopes that by helping vaccinate people, he will help the country return to normality.

Mr Woodhead said: “After obtaining my frozen ATPL and with the prospect of jobs looking decidedly bleak, I decided that I needed to do something productive in the meantime.

“I enjoy going out and meeting people, and to be honest this was restricted in the lockdown and the vaccinator job is certainly one way of fulfilling this.

“I also felt compelled that by vaccinating the population, I am not only carrying out an altruistic task, but I am also contributing to a return to normal life for our country.

“Therefore, a return to travel, an increase in demand for travel, and the growth of aviation, with job roles opening up again.

"This has been the main driving force behind my decision.”

Hoping that the future of aviation will see a stronger return towards some normality this summer, he added:“I can’t say that I have ever given up sight of my end dream though, and have recently come to realise that at the end of the day, I have my life ahead of me and that my time will soon come.”