Last March, I do not think any of us could have imagined the challenges we would face in the next 12 months.
Those challenges have come into every part of our lives. They have changed how, and sometimes where, we work; they have affected how we spend our free time; they’ve led to us missing our loved ones; and sadly, for some of us, they’ve led to the illness and loss of family and friends.
As we mark the anniversary of the first nationwide ‘lockdown’, I wanted to take some time to reflect on the last year and the incredible work done – in the face of adversity and sometimes personal tragedy.
In those early weeks of the pandemic, huge parts of life shutdown: businesses shut their doors; schools were closed to most students; and weddings, holidays, and social events were postponed.
Some of us switched to working from home, often while trying to juggle home schooling with our work commitments. Many others, meanwhile, kept travelling to work, and remained in public-facing roles despite the virus.
It was also a time of tremendous worry, particularly for those who are especially vulnerable to the virus or those with elderly or unwell friends and relatives. Even those lucky enough to be in robust health could be struck down by COVID, as the many stories on TV and in the newspapers showed.
Thousands of people were told to ‘shield’ for their own protection – hardly able to enjoy the glorious weather that helped to offset the horrible news coming to us each day, from both close to home and around the globe.
Saddest of all is that, as the year progressed, tens of thousands of people lost a loved one. Those losses have affected all of us.
But in the past year we have also witnessed tremendous fortitude and kindness.
Across the country people faced challenges in getting supermarket slots or caring for children or older relatives. Yet, they kept working – from homes, offices and kept making sure that essential services were running.
The challenges of COVID in our personal lives and in society are not over yet. But with the rollout of the vaccine, we can finally see light at the end of the tunnel.
We are well on our way to making sure that the disruptions of the past year are mitigated and reduced. There may be more bumps in the road ahead, but we can now believe that we are past the darkest days of the pandemic.
On this very sombre anniversary – one that none of us ever wanted to mark.
In the words of Captain Sir Tom Moore
“Remember, tomorrow is a good day, tomorrow you will maybe find everything will be much better than today.”