SELFLESS Scout volunteers who have posted more than 7,000 prescriptions around their town will make their final deliveries this Friday.

The pink-clad porters of Witney will wind down their operation due to a drop in availability and demand after running some 7,500 packages in four months.

An initiative that began with West Oxfordshire Scout leaders helping Witney’s Windrush Medical Practice blossomed into 65 volunteers working with all eight pharmacies in the town.

But with lockdown restrictions easing in recent weeks, the number of deliveries has fallen to as little as four or five per day.

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North Leigh Scout leader Jonathan Greer revealed the group was immensely proud of their efforts, but felt it was the right time to halt proceedings.

He said: “We’re at a point where our team needed to get back to work.

“Should we go into another tougher lockdown, we’d fire it up and get going again.

“Some days we were picking up 200 prescriptions and we’d get messages of thanks in different ways.

“It might be a plastic bag with a note on the doorstep, or an email.

“It made us realise there are people out there that really appreciate it.”

The 44-year-old was a key part of the operation and paid tribute to his fellow volunteers.

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He added: “That’s why a lot of leaders go into scouting.

“It quickly took off – we put the call out and we just knew people were going to come on board and help.

“That’s just the sort of people they are.

Witney Gazette:

“It’s a shame we’ve got to bring it to an end, but we were there when we were needed most.”

The scheme was started by Sarah Townsend, a dispensary manager at the Windrush, who is also the deputy district commissioner for West Oxfordshire Scouts.

Once lockdown was imposed on March 23, the group sprang into action and the first prescription was sent out five days later.

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Scout leaders from across Oxfordshire and volunteers from local charities answered the call to arms, lending a hand with collection, delivery and administration work.

Medications were sorted in a socially-distanced hub, where individuals were able to stand two metres apart and wear personal protective equipment (PPE).

Meanwhile, Eynsham Scout leader Steve Thompson, a programmer by trade, set up software to help track each item as the operation grew.

The group will continue to take requests for deliveries until 4pm today (Wednesday), with a post on the Spotted Witney Official Facebook page thanking the community for their ‘amazing support’.

More than 320 people have reacted to the message, while well-wishers have left almost 50 comments of gratitude.

One resident, Lisa Goodman, wrote: “Your help over the past four months has been invaluable to so many.

“Having been shielding since March, I know first hand how difficult it is losing your independence and needing to rely on others.

“Your team have always been cheerful, polite and extremely helpful, which certainly made things easier. Well done to you all.”

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Caroline Curtis added: “Thank you for providing such an excellent service, giving up your time to care for others and make sure they were provided for.

“I know that all patients and staff at Cogges Surgery are so very grateful for everything that you have done in the most difficult circumstances, nothing was too much trouble.”

Volunteer Zoe Arnold also commented on the post, adding: “It has been a huge pleasure to be part of this wonderful team.

“It has given me great pride to be able to give something back to the community during these very strange times.”