"No vaccine passports! No vaccine passports!" chanted the sea of protesters as they tramped past the Minster at the beginning of a march through York.

Klaxons blared, and candles let off coloured smoke that drifted through the crowd.

Many of the hundreds of people who gathered in York for Saturday's protest march - organised by The North Unites - insisted they were not 'anti-vaxx'.

They said they just think that getting vaccinated should be a matter of choice - and that the Covid vaccines have been rushed into use without the proper clinical trials being completed.

The protesters had come from come across the north of England – as far afield as Lincolnshire, Cheshire, Blackpool and Huddersfield.

David Bird and his sister Kayleigh had come from North Lincolnshire to support his mum, an NHS nurse with ten years experience.

She didn’t want to have the jab because she didn’t think it had been properly tested, said Kayleigh. “She’s not anti-vaccine. She’s had her Hep B jab. She just doesn’t feel that there is the safety data for Covid vaccines.”

York Press:

NHS staff worried about losing their jobs were among those who joined today's protest

Peter Farrell, who had come from Blackpool to join the protest, said he accepted that there was a ‘disease called covid’.

“But I don’t think that vaccination helps,” he said. He reeled off statistics about how many people had died after being vaccinated – and how many people had suffered adverse reactions.

“It has not been fully tested,” he said.

Ambulance driver Emma Natale from Rotherham agreed. NHS staff had been told they could lose their jobs if they didn’t get vaccinated, she said.

But she insisted she didn’t want or need to get jabbed. “I have a strong immune system that works well” she said. “We just want to keep our jobs and be able to live our lives.”

Some of those on the march, however, clearly felt the whole covid pandemic was a hoax.

Gillian England, who had come from Derby, said Freedom of Information disclosures had revealed that there were more deaths across the country in 2015 than there had been in 2020, when Covid was at its height.

But because so many other medical interventions had been interrupted by Covid, she said she believed there would be more deaths in 2021 because people had not been getting the treatment they needed.

She said if people wanted to get vaccinated, that was up to them. “That is their personal choice. But I will not be part of a medical experiment.”

York Press:

The marchers walk past York Minster

The rally began at about 12 noon as protesters began to gather in Duncombe Place, in the shadow of York Minster, to hear speeches delivered from a makeshift podium beneath the war memorial.

At 2.30pm, with a blast of klaxons and chants of ‘We’re not going to take it any more!” and ‘No vaxx passports’, the march began – heading down Deangate and Goodramgate.

A police cordon blocked Monk Bar, and the stream of protesters headed along Aldwark instead.

Another police cordon blocked off Peasholme Green. The marchers headed into town along Stonebow, and were steered up Parliament Street by police cordons.

York Press:

A police cordon blocked off Peasholme Green

They then doubled back, heading through St Helen’s Square, down Coney Street, and then back up Parliament Street, before being ushered by police along Davygate and Blake Street and back to Duncombe Place.

Many of the people who had come to visit York for the St Nicholas Fair were distinctly unimpressed.

“It’s rubbish!” said Bridget, who had come with her frend Sarah from Huddersfield for the day.

Both women were wearing masks in the St Nicholas Fair crowds. “They (the protesters) are just showing their igniorance," Bridget said. “York is desperately trying to get people to come back – but not people like this!”

Catherine Williams, who is studying medicine in York, said she agreed nobody should be forced to have a vaccine.

“But they should follow the expert advice and choose to be vaccinated,” she said.

Victoria Randall, queueing with her family to get into Betty’s as the marchers walked past, was angriest.

“I was very ill with Covid for quite a long time,” she said. “I went into intensive care and thought I was going to die.”

Her young daughter Eva, who was with her in the queue, had also had Covid, Victoria said.

“She's a bit upset by this,” Victoria said. She looked at the marchers. “This is just a rent-a-mob.”