Warwickshire have donated their Edgbaston stadium for the use of the NHS in a bid to help in the battle against COVID-19.
The ground – more specifically, the car park – will be used as a drive-through testing centre for NHS staff. Those requiring tests will drive in through the Edgbaston Road entrance and undergo the procedure while remaining in their vehicle. They will then leave via the Pershore Road exit.
Warwickshire also plan to offer NHS staff free entry to a Vitality Blast fixture later in the summer. Details of this offer will be released as and when the schedule for the 2020 season is announced.
The UK has witnessed something of an outpouring of gratitude towards NHS staff in recent weeks. As details of the severity of the crisis have become clear, it has also become apparent that many staff – some of whom are not especially well paid – are working in desperately demanding conditions without adequate protective equipment or access to testing. Sam Curran and Jos Buttler are among the England players who have begun their own fund-raising efforts for NHS related charities.
With little immediate prospect of cricket or any of the events that usually occupy Edgbaston, staff at Warwickshire have been looking for ways in which they could help the community through the pandemic. The offer to host a testing centre was gratefully accepted by the Department of Health and Social Care and will be utilised by staff throughout the West Midlands region.
“With our county cricket programme and conference and events business closed until 29 May, our staff have been exploring various options which enable the club to keep supporting our local community during these difficult times, whether that be through making calls to our elderly members and ex-players, volunteering and by offering Edgbaston Stadium for use in the wider civil contingency effort,” Neil Snowball, the Warwickshire chief executive, said.
“Whilst it is a small part to play in grand scheme of things, we are pleased that our stadium can be utilised to support the fantastic efforts being made by all of our NHS staff in response to the coronavirus crisis.
“We are also very grateful for the support that we have received in delivering this project from Patrizia and Homes England, our development partners.”
The NHS staff COVID-19 testing station will start operating within a few days and will remain at Edgbaston until further notice. While these are not the type of tests anyone expected to see at the ground, they will, at least, ensure Edgbaston continues to play some part in helping the local community.