Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville is playing the most important role of his life.
The actor, who stars as the Earl of Grantham in the hit historical drama, is volunteering as a marshall at a COVID-19 vaccination center near his home in Midhurst, West Sussex, where his job is to welcome people and put them at ease ahead of their injections.
"I get to wear a high-vis and be very bossy and go: 'Oi!'," Bonneville, 57, jokingly told BBC News about his volunteer role, adding "No, it's just to welcome people – as I'm about to do. 'Good morning sir, welcome.'"
RELATED: Lady Mary Meets Princess Kate! What the Stars of Downton Abbey Thought of the Royal s Special Set Visit
Bonneville's COVID1-19 duties start around 7:30 am at the Riverbank Medical Centre in the sleepy south of England town.
After collecting a disinfected yellow reflective gilet and name badge reading "Hugh," he greets guests wearing a cowboy-style hat and puffy winter jacket.
As the U.K. has focused on vaccinating the elderly and high-risk before anyone else, his role is as much about treating apprehensiveness and nervousness as it is telling patients to "mind the step" or "take a little adventure tour up the ramp" leading into the NHS center.
"For some people, it's the first time they've been out of their house in, you know, a year," Hugh told the BBC. "We've had people who've been grateful for the outing as much as anything and this sense of a glimmer of hope, so it's great to be part of this team effort."
Can't get enough of PEOPLE's Royals coverage? Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more!
While most of the locals don't recognize Hugh behind his facemask, the actor has had to endure a few light-hearted comments about his high-profile roles in Downton Abbey and Paddington.
"You get the odd, you know, 'marmalade sandwich' thrown at you," says the actor, who recently told PEOPLE NOW that he'd love Meryl Streep to star in a Downton movie sequel.
Despite this, Hugh is happy to do anything he can to assist the U.K.'s hugely successful vaccination program, which has so far provided stage one inoculations to more than 12.8 million people at a rate of around 600,000 injections a day.
Want to get the biggest stories from PEOPLE every weekday? Subscribe to our new podcast, PEOPLE Every Day, to get the essential celebrity, entertainment and human interest news stories Monday through Friday.
"It's tangible," Hugh told the BBC about the difference the program is making to his local community both physically and mentally. "It's palpable."
He continues, "It's not relief because it's not over, but there's the sense of hope, and to be part of that is really lovely."
Source: Read Full Article