City to light up yellow to remember those lost to Covid and mark one year anniversary of lockdown
Council flags are raised at half mast and buildings will light up yellow to support a day of remembrance today on the year anniversary of the first national lockdown.
Preston's Harris Museum, Town Hall and the Blackpool Winter Gardens are just some of the prominent buildings and landmarks that will be lit up yellow this evening to remember those we have lost over the past year.
Today, March 23, officially marks a year National Day of Reflection is being led by the charity and is supported by over 250 other organisations, to remember those who have died during the pandemic and show support for the millions of people who have been bereaved.
Michael Hutchinson, a Curate of St Cuthberts church, Fulwood said that the past 12 months had been “vastly different” than before the pandemic and has used online services to keep the community together.
From 11 am today, they offered a short reflective service that was available in person and streamed online, giving the community the opportunity to look back over the last 12 months.
The church will also be offering the community the chance to light a candle at 8 pm to show their “connection with one another”.
Michael said: “People over the last year have realised something about the fragile beauty of life. So much has been lost in the past year, whether that be loved ones, their jobs, or even just having social contact with others.
“There is something in the desire of the church to speak into that and give people hope for the future and also the opportunity to sit and think about how the last year has been and what we can learn from it.
“The pandemic has been a huge blow to how we think in society and people should be able to reflect and pray on that. We are offering a space for people to come and reflect and think about how the last 12 months has affected us all.
“Beforehand, we would've had reasonably large gatherings especially at Sunday service, but we have still made sure that we served the community when the lockdown closed everything down and put restrictions on them.
"There has been a totally different feel to church services - an important part of church is the community spirit it provides for people and that's totally changed. Our primary provision has been keeping people in touch as we wanted to keep getting as many people involved from the community as possible. It's not been the same but it has worked really well for most people."
Mr Mukhtar Master, Muslim Representative of the Preston Faith Covenant said: "A year is a long time and it’s staggering to think that Covid has now been with us for that long. The Muslim community, like many other communities, have suffered at the hands of this virus, which does not discriminate between those who it affects.
"We have had approximately 43 deaths within our small community in the last 12 months, which have been Covid linked. All of these individuals were part of families and a community that have been sadly deprived by their loss.
"We will take a few minutes to reflect and pray for those who have been affected."
Over the past year, the country has been placed under three lockdowns with Preston facing some of the tightest restrictions possible during the tiered approach and higher than average rates of infection.
And today, Lancashire reflects on the past 12 months and looks to the future as the vaccine rollout continues and infection rates drop.
Marie Curie’s Head of Community Fundraising at Preston said: "The National Day of Reflection is not only about remembering those who have died during the pandemic when so many of us have not had the chance to grieve in the ‘usual’ ways. The Day is also about celebrating our sense of community, and showing those who are coping with grief that they are not alone.”
Longridge High School is today sharing giant daffodil crafts in their windows, whilst Great Eccleston Copp CE Primary School will be a sea of yellow, with staff and pupils wearing the bright colour in order to mark the day.
Boris Johnson said he had observed the minute's silence at noon privately, while the head of the NHS Sir Simon Stevens has also gave his support.
Mr Johnson said: "This has been an incredibly difficult year for our country. My thoughts are with all those who have lost loved ones, and who have not been able to pay tribute to them in the way they would have wanted.
"As we continue to make progress against the virus, I want to thank people for the sacrifices they continue to make, and hope they can look forward to being reunited with loved ones as restrictions are cautiously eased."
Sir Simon said: "Coming out of the toughest year in the health service's entire history, we need to reflect on the pandemic's deep toll, mourn those we've lost, and mark the service and sacrifice of staff throughout the NHS.
"It's also a moment to acknowledge how in adversity we saw strength, as friends, neighbours and communities have come together to help each other through the nation's worst ordeal since the Second World War.
"While we need continuing vigilance against this virus, the remarkable NHS vaccination programme now brings hope of better times to come."
Marie Curie chief executive Matthew Reed said: "The last year has been one of the most traumatic and uniting in modern history. With so many of us losing someone close, our shared sense of loss is incomparable to anything felt by this generation.
"Many of us have been unable to say a real goodbye or comfort our family, friends and colleagues in their grief. We need to acknowledge that and recognise we are not alone.
"That's why on March 23, it is important that we all come together to reflect on our collective loss, celebrate the lives of the special people no longer here, support those who've been bereaved and look towards a much brighter future."
Find out more information about the campaign here.
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