Vaccinations in Andover could move to the Chantry Centre as part of plans to reopen The Lights theatre.

Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) announced it was exploring the move in partnership with the NHS in order to bring customers back to the theatre, which began giving vaccinations in December last year.

TVBC leader, councillor Phil North, said: “I am really pleased that we have been able to contribute in some small part towards the vaccination programme by offering our venues for use.

“We know that customers are keen to return to The Lights once restrictions are lifted, so we want to make sure that we have an alternative location lined up ready to provide a seamless transition from one site to the other. The Chantry Centre offers a great, central location, and we’ll be cracking on over the next few months to get a suitable unit kitted out and ready for use.

“We will probably never be able to thank the healthcare staff and incredible volunteers enough for all they have done to keep us safe but hopefully our continued offer of support at least makes things a little easier for them.”

Rather than the usual thespians and performers, The Lights has played host to a team of doctors, nurses and volunteers since December last year, after closing as a theatre in March as lockdown restrictions took hold.

The first person to be vaccinated was Mary Jackson, an 84-year-old resident, and carer for her husband, who was given the first dose by Dr Rome Candy, with Mary saying she felt “so privileged” to receive the shot.

Since then, the centre has given thousands of vaccines to the people of Andover and the surrounding area as part of the service. It has been complemented by a Covid testing site at Shepherds Spring Lane Car Park, as well as a lateral flow test centre that was formerly at the Picket Twenty Sports Ground.

TVBC now hopes to move the vaccination centre into an empty unit in the Chantry Centre, which it owns. This is currently planned for the end of summer into the start of autumn.

Dr Ben Sharpe, clinical lead for the Andover vaccination site, said: “We are extremely grateful to the team at The Lights and the council for all their help over the past few months. We look forward to continuing to work with them as we explore plans to continue this vital programme from the Chantry Centre.

“Without the incredible clinical staff, volunteers and assistance from partner organisations, we wouldn’t have been able to get the vaccination programme off the ground. We are therefore enormously thankful both for our amazing volunteers and the ongoing collaboration with the council.”