A FORMER Bradford Bulls Women star has revealed what life has been like on the NHS front line during the pandemic.
Amy Hardcastle has been juggling her roles on the rugby league field and training, now with St Helens and England, being a mother and working as an A&E healthcare assistant at Calderdale Royal Hospital over the past 13 months.
She says the winter was the time when the number of Covid patients reached its peak at her hospital, as staff rallied round.
Amy has lifted the lid on the pressures of the pandemic, saying she feared she would bring the virus home to her family due to her work in hospital.
Today marks the anniversary of the first lockdown. Please support a minutes silence at 12pm. It’s being incredibly hard for everyone and when we look back on this, we can all say we supported one way or another. Be proud of yourself and what you have overcome the past year💙❤️💛 pic.twitter.com/kFXK9IrjKH— Amy Hardcastle (@hardcastle03) March 23, 2021
She said: "It's been very, very challenging.
"At the beginning, it was really, really scary. It was really difficult.
"I was always worried I was going to bring it home, but the A&E department needed me.
We felt it the most in winter. It has been so full-on, so intense. It had a massive impact on me
"Some patients have been coming in with no relations. We are their family.
"It's been really, really hard and challenging. I think my rugby league background helped with me on A&E, as I was used to working as part of a team.
"There is still a good volume of people coming through.
"It's still unbelievably busy, but there are now people who are not just coming in suffering from Covid.
"We have all pulled together in A&E. It is like a family. They have all been fantastic. Every single day is different.
"We do still see the odd Covid patient coming in, but it has flipped back a bit. We've just got to hope it gets better."
Meanwhile, Amy has been juggling her job in A&E with training with both England ahead of this autumn's World Cup and St Helens.
The 32-year-old also hopes to line up for England in the Rugby League World Cup, taking place this October and November in the UK.
Former captain Amy, who lives near Brighouse, left Bulls in May last year to further boost her England chances.
She looks back at her time with Bulls fondly, but has also looked ahead to the World Cup.
She added: "I loved it at the Bulls. I do speak to a few of the girls.
"With a World Cup coming, I had to be selfish. I really respect the club (Bulls) and its supporters.
"I had to leave for me to progress and be the best centre that I can be.
"I sit down and think 'how does my planner work' I'm working in A&E, being a mum and being at St Helens and England training."