It’s been an awful year for everyone. It has been worst for those who have lost a job, lost a business or, worse still, lost a loved one. There is little that can be said in the way of condolence for those of you in this situation, although I do offer my heartfelt condolences to anyone who has had one of these things happen.
The rest of us are lucky to not be out of work or be grieving someone, but whoever you are, you’ve not been able to live your life in the way you usually do, whether seeing friends, taking part in your favourite hobby or travelling to other places. Sadly, we have not yet beaten this virus and there will be more damage to livelihoods and to lives in the new year.
Despite that, I think there are reasons to feel optimistic and proud. Firstly, the country made it through the year. It was difficult and depressing, but we are here at the end of it with enough resilience to keep going. Her Majesty the Queen put this best in her perfectly judged address to the nation, hinting both that we would get through and that our relatives had endured even worse “we should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return. We will be with our friends again. We will be with our families again. We will meet again.”
We saw a tremendous effort from our public services, working non-stop throughout the pandemic, not least our healthcare workers and our teachers/headteachers. But also from our private sector, such as our shop workers and bus drivers. Our businesses demonstrated huge innovation, whether in how to operate with so many restrictions, or in turning their skills to making hand sanitiser and PPE.
Like so many people, one of the things I was most struck by was the incredible community support that ordinary members of the public provided from Shrivenham to Wallingford (and everywhere else besides), stepping up to help their neighbours with everything from prescription collection and shopping to delivering homemade meals.
I am very sorry that the period for families and friends to see each other over Christmas has had to be reduced and it is those on their own, whose relatives live too far away to visit in a day, that I most feel for. But I am pleased some of us can still do so, if only for a day, as it is what I think we all need. And with the vaccine roll-out having already started, I really do think there are reasons to look forward to a better 2021. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.