If you were given a selection of 2020 news stories this time last year, you might have considered it a work of frightful fiction. Social distancing, support bubbles and lockdowns are new and most unwelcome additions to our vocabulary.
Amongst all the doom and gloom, we should also reflect on the incredible community spirit we’ve seen across East Devon. Within days of the lockdown in March, hundreds of volunteers signed up to pick up prescriptions, shopping and offer a listening ear to those who might face isolation.
It was a pleasure to be a small part of that community effort in Sidmouth. The level of support offered in our towns and villages was simply incredible. It brought our communities even closer together, in the toughest time we’ve known for generations.
Many people have COVID fatigue as we wonder when we’ll be able to get back to normal. We have real hope with the roll-out of the vaccine and more to come, but we really can’t let our guard down.
As restrictions ease this Christmas, we all have to make difficult decisions over who we’ll see and who we won’t. Personally, I’m erring on the side of caution and will continue to limit who I see, striking a careful balance between head and heart.
It does mean you may see in the post office demonstrating my woeful juggling skills as I post presents to family across Devon and beyond. I have managed to buy presents for everyone locally, even the most tricky on my list!
The challenges we have faced and continue to battle aren’t unique to our country. We’ve seen recent announcements about strict lockdowns across Europe and elsewhere over Christmas. We all long for the day we can throw the last mask in the bin and enjoy the freedoms we expect in life. However, throwing caution to the wind now could bring more than a hangover in the New Year.
May I take this opportunity to wish you and your family a Happy Christmas.
This column first appeared in the Exmouth Journal on Wednesday 23rd December 2020.