The key thread running through my Christmas message a year ago was about the great community spirit that exists throughout East Hampshire – if only I’d known then just how much that was to be put to the test during 2020!
Covid-19 has undoubtedly brought tears, but it has also brought triumph. Some wins have been small, maybe just a friendly wave through a window to an elderly relative or friend. Some have been larger, like the tremendous community efforts that have taken place in every town, village and hamlet throughout East Hampshire, helping keep everyone safe, fed and in as good spirit as it was possible to muster. And some have been huge - the emergence of not just one but several vaccines, all being developed at record-breaking speed, while always ensuring they were tested to meet strict health standards.
Many of us know someone who has suffered from Covid-19 and sadly many of us have lost friends or family to this cursed virus. Yet for all the sadness, there have been moments of joy too, perhaps a realisation that life doesn’t need to be all hustle and bustle, being glued to a screen for every waking moment. How many of us found that there were new joys to behold, and how lucky we are for living in such a beautiful part of the country, where we can walk in fields or explore the Heath, to realise how much nicer a walk could be rather than a commute in nose-to-tail traffic on the A3 or a crowded railway carriage. I know for me, one of the ‘bright spots’ was realising how beautiful the sky could be on a clear summer’s day, when unhindered by the straight lines of jet contrails. The sky was instead just a vast expanse of blue.
I must use this opportunity to say a heartfelt thank you to all my colleagues at EHDC, councillors, and especially all of the officers, suddenly thrown into a world where working from home became the norm, where the most heard phrase was “you’re on mute!”, and each day presented new challenges. That you all responded so well makes me immensely proud of each and every one of you.
As we enter this Christmas period, please do take care and follow the guidelines. I’m sure we will all have a Christmas wish to ‘get back to normal’ – but let’s make it a new normal, a better normal, for to return to the status quo would be for much of this year’s suffering to be in vain.