Biggleswade and Sandy mark Covid-19 National Day of Reflection
Residents of Biggleswade and Sandy are pausing to pay their respects during today's Covid-19 National Day of Reflection.
Councillors and townsfolk supported a one minute silence at midday this afternoon (March 23), while this evening at 8pm people will light up their doorsteps to remember all those who lost their lives during the pandemic.
The idea was initiated by the charity Marie Curie and received backing from Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
This morning, Central Bedfordshire Councillor Dr Hayley Whitaker, who represents Biggleswade South, told the Chronicle: "I will take time today to reflect on all of those lives we have lost, the families that have been changed forever and those that continue to suffer with the long term impact of Covid. As well as the minute's silence I will go for a walk in some of Biggleswade's glorious countryside and reflect upon just how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful place.
"Biggleswade has always had a strong community but the pandemic has brought people even closer and brought out the best in our town. I never fail to be impressed by the work of volunteers, neighbours and community groups who have reached out to those in need.
"Special thanks need to go to Preen, Biggleswade Baptist Church, the Good Neighbours Scheme and the amazing volunteers at the Weatherley Centre and Biggleswade Hospital who are making the vaccination program so accessible and straightforward for everyone. However, everyone has played their part in keeping our community safe in these difficult times and I want to acknowledge the many sacrifices people have made each and every day."
Meanwhile, staff and councillors at Sandy Town Council have also been paying their respects.
A Town Council spokeswoman said: "Today, the members and staff of Sandy Town Council are participating in the national day of reflection marking one year since the first coronavirus lockdown was announced in the UK. Individually, we will be joining those across our community and around the nation, observing the minute's silence at noon and the doorstep vigil this evening, in remembrance of those we have lost, and in recognition of the difficulties so many people have faced since the pandemic began.
"Covid-19 has had a great impact on all communities around the world, including our residents in Sandy and Beeston. Locally, we have seen a heart-warming response, with friends, neighbours and community volunteer groups eagerly helping those most in need of essential support. The council wishes to express it thanks to all those in our community who have done so much to help others over the difficult last twelve months.
"The full impact of the coronavirus crisis is yet to be fully understood, and will no doubt unfold over the years to come, but we remain hopeful that our community's enduring spirit will prevail and help us all to come through these difficult times, together."
Since the early days of the pandemic, Central Bedfordshire Council has been provided with regular updates on the number of new positive cases and, sadly, reported deaths.
Public Health England data shows that in Central Bedfordshire, 15,474 people had tested positive for Covid-19 by Thursday morning (March 18).
According to the Office for National Statistics, 647 deaths involving the virus were provisionally registered in the area up to March 13, and today (March 23) marks one whole year since the Prime Minister announced that UK residents were to stay home.
Reflecting on the past year, Central Bedfordshire Cllr Tracey Wye, who represents Potton Ward, told the Chronicle: "It seems like such a long time (and yet no time at all) since this virus forced our lives into unchartered waters; the only certainty was that we had to stay at home, stop going to work and school, and leave loved ones in other households to fend for themselves. Every day essential activities like getting food shopping, visiting the doctor, were suddenly fraught with difficulty.
"We faced a shocking new reality as every day brought increased numbers of infections and deaths which quickly became unimaginable.
"And yet, remarkably, there are positives to be found in this direst of situations.
"Today I will reflect on the people of Potton Ward who could not have responded to this pandemic in a more organised, public-spirited and kind way.
"We saw how swiftly people came together in the face of adversity to form support groups. We saw so many people volunteer to help friends, neighbours and strangers with everyday tasks when they were quarantined in their homes.
"We saw the generosity of a community which donated thousands of pounds to help others who found themselves facing food poverty through a loss of employment, or trying to survive on 80 percent furlough wages.
"I will also reflect on how the lockdown has given people a chance to reconnect with nature; we have explored our local environs and been reminded of the beauty of the Bedfordshire countryside. Perhaps it helped people forget for one moment the shadow of fear and sadness cast by Covid?
"At noon I will reflect on the ways our lives may have changed for the better; fewer car journeys, more walking and cycling, online shopping, working from home bringing a better work-life balance.
"Later, at 8pm, I will light a candle as a symbol of solidarity with my friends and neighbours who feel the absence of loved ones taken prematurely, and hope we will see a brighter future as the nation gets vaccinated against this terrible virus."
Shefford Town Council has marked the one year anniversary by observing the minute's silence at midday, and it will have a candle on display later in the Town Council offices.