Reflecting on a year of emotions during pandemic
A number of events are being held to remember and honour those lives lost due to Covid-19.
Northumberland County Council, parish and town councils, Northumbria Police and a number of organisations will be taking part in a National Day of Reflection on the first anniversary of the first national lockdown.
The authority has teamed up with The Alnwick Garden to light up the popular visitor attraction in the colours of the Northumberland flag to mark the occasion on Tuesday evening.
Throughout the day the council will also be paying tribute to communities, individuals and council staff with a series of special films showing the efforts of people across the county.
The National Day of Reflection is being led by charity Marie Curie and encouraging to residents to share in a minute’s silence at noon as well as taking to their doorstep to shine a light in memory of loved ones at 8pm.
Leader of the council, Coun Glen Sanderson, said: “Looking back over the last 12 months we have all experienced a dramatic change in how we live our lives, and many of us have sadly experienced loss and bereavement.
“We wanted to honour all those people who have suffered or lost someone close to them as a result of this awful virus, but also to mark the tremendous effort and spirit which we have seen across the county.
"Our residents and staff have been nothing short of phenomenal in their response.
“With the continued vaccination programme we are looking forward to better times and the future prosperity of Northumberland.”
Mark Brassell, Director of The Alnwick Garden, said: "The last 12 months have been a really challenging time for us all, and here at The Alnwick Garden we have done all we can to continue to offer a safe space for people to enjoy, when restrictions have allowed.
"It is hugely important to take the time to mark the sacrifices which have been made and losses many have experienced over the last year and we are honoured to be playing our part by lighting up The Alnwick Garden."
Over the last 12 months, communities have rallied to support each other, honour the work of the NHS while town councils have also stepped in to help people in need, as well as shine a light on those doing valuable work.
Cramlington Town Mayor Loraine De Simone said: “To quote Dickens ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…’
“I am incredibly proud of the way Cramlington reacted to events of the past twelve months.
“The pandemic led to a change in delivery for most existing community groups, the development of new community organisations and support initiatives and throughout is all our council team acted as an essential community link.
“I must also congratulate our residents for their heartwarming examples of community spirit with people helping each other in so many ways.
“Thanks to everyone who has pulled together during these ‘unprecedented’ times – you are why I love Cramlington.”
Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery said: “Many will look back on this year and feel a sense of loss.
"Both of the loved ones they may have lost which has tragically reached too many, but also of the time they have seen tick away, locked in their homes unable to get on with the plans of life.
“My deepest sympathies go out to those who have lost people close to them in what has often been in horrendous circumstances.
"While we have spent more time apart than ever from loved ones, the time spent separated has perhaps allowed us to relearn the values of family and comradeship with those close to us, and to re-evaluate what is truly important in our lives.
“While we have often endured difficult times over this past year, we have also seen incredible scenes of community spirit and perseverance.
"Perhaps most memorably when the community rallied together during the October half term to provide school meals while children who would otherwise go hungry were off school, or the organising of Christmas hampers for families who have felt the full force of the pandemic on their income.
“We have also bore witness to the wonders of the NHS and the other key workers who have kept the country afloat throughout the most difficult state of affairs.
"Each and every one of them is a hero and I am eternally grateful for what they have done for us since the beginning of the pandemic.
“The vaccine rollout now gives us all hope of a British Summer outside of our homes in contact with our close friends and families.
"While I share this optimism, I urge everyone to continue to be vigilant and stay safe to ensure we exit this third lockdown swiftly and with a sense of finality.”
The last 12 months has also shone a light on key workers, including the emergency services, teachers, essential shop workers and the valuable NHS.
Holly Turner, a sister on Ward 12, a respiratory support unit at Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, said: “It’s been relentless working on the frontline.
"It’s been a challenging 12-months that’s made me realise just how resilient I am.
“Ward 12 has endured some emotional shifts. So many patients, including couples and relatives, have passed away. So many families have been left heartbroken.
"It's the hardest part of the job. Covid is so cruel.
“I’m proud to work for the NHS. It has been, and still is, challenging but in equal parts it's hugely rewarding. You can make a huge difference in someone's life."
Sam Connor, associate assistant headteacher at King Edward VI School in Morpeth, said: “I can’t quite believe that it’s been one year since lockdown.
"It’s been a complex 12-months that has turned everything upside down. Covid has posed many questions about our daily lives.
"Now is the time to reflect on how we can move forward to create a brighter future.
"To address not only how to live with Covid but how as a society we can rebuild to become stronger, by working together.
“For me, the pandemic has made me realise how resourceful and supportive people are in times of adversity. I feel no matter what comes next we can face it, together."