ISLE of Wight darts player Keegan Brown may have made himself a global star on the oche, but during the coronavirus crisis his efforts for the NHS have never been more valued.

While most darts players will be using lockdown exclusively to practice, in readiness for the when competitive darts gets underway again, Keegan, 27, continues to work for the NHS at St Mary's Hospital in Newport.

The former world youth champion was already working part-time as a laboratory assistant at the hospital, despite turning professional.

Rather than improve on his game, Keegan, of Newport, stepped up his shifts — including overnight — from three days to five in the hospital's blood sciences department since the pandemic struck.

Isle of Wight County Press: Island darts player Keegan Brown, of Newport, has ditched darts for helping to save lives during the coronavirus pandemic.Island darts player Keegan Brown, of Newport, has ditched darts for helping to save lives during the coronavirus pandemic.

"For now, my skills are required in the laboratory, not on the dartboard, so my focus is there," the world number 30 said.

"It can involve anything from receiving samples, booking in, centrifuging samples, using automated analysers and working alongside my colleagues as a team to identify health problems.

"Most medical conditions will be detected in this way.

"I feel it's the right thing to do during a pandemic crisis. I couldn't just sit at home while my colleagues up and down the country are at work fighting against this virus daily.

"If they can use my skills in a way to help, I want them to.

"We are completing day-to-day tests as usual and now following procedures in the chain of testing for Covid 19.

"The clap for carers on a Thursday night is very emotional.

"When you can hear clapping, banging on pans and fireworks going off, it makes it worthwhile going to work daily in these difficult circumstances.

"It's not just the healthcare, but all the unsung heroes risking their own safety every day to keep the country running.

"I was just arriving home from a shift last week and it really got me, my neighbours were great.

"Myself and my colleagues in the laboratory all said, when you can hear people's appreciation, it really hits home that people are thankful to what we are doing during this time of need.

"Playing darts and working for the NHS both make me feel really good, but they are so very different.

"Playing darts is more personal. I do it for love of the game and personal achievement. Obviously I enjoy being appreciated for both, so I am very lucky."

Keegan once reached the last 16 of the World Championship in 2018 before he lost to 16-time champion, Phil Taylor, but his greatest achievement was winning the 2014 PDC World Youth Champion win.

"To be called a world champion during a period of a sports career is a feeling everyone wants," he said.

"I am keeping my arm in and trying to get online for a game or two when I can. I just currently feel my focus is needed elsewhere at the moment.

"I'm looking forward to getting back practising my usual two full days and a couple of hours on work days."