Usain Bolt to get needle from Penny

TAKING blood from the likes of Usain Bolt and Jessica Ennis will soon be all in a long day’s work for a Backwell nurse.

Mother-of-three Penny Mannings, aged 57, is taking time off from her job with the National Blood and Transplant Service, based in Southmead, throughout July and August to volunteer taking samples from athletes at the Olympics and Paralympics.

The blood will be checked every day for evidence of drug-taking and is a daunting but exciting prospect for the The Avenue resident.

She said: “There are only a few of us allocated to each venue so we have been told that we will definitely have to be taking blood samples from the big name athletes. “This is a bit unnerving as we are going to be the last people they will want to be spending time with after the event, whether they have won or lost.”

Penny, who ran an insurance brokerage in Nailsea for several years before training to be a nurse, will be working ten shifts at the Olympic Stadium for both sets of games and has been told she could be finishing as late as 2am.

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She added: “We have to fund our own accommodation and transport, take the time off as holiday and at present there are no facilities for getting us away from the stadium.

“It is very exciting but it also seems a mad process.”

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Penny and her team were interviewed in London last May, and after hearing they had been selected, attended an orientation event, and an assessment in the capital.

Next week she will collect her uniform and accreditation and will have to stay in London again for the Paralympics in August.

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