'We haven't let anything stop us': Preston reflects on first anniversary of Covid lockdown

People yesterday took time to reflect on those that have lost their battle with Covid-19 over the past 12 months, marking one year since the national lockdown was introduced.

Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 12:30 pm

Preston's Harris museum, market hall and town hall were among the prominent buildings that shone a bright yellow last night to represent reflection and hopes for the future.

And people stood in silence yesterday, March 23, to pay their respects to those who have lost their battle to the virus over the last 12 months.

End of life charity Marie Curie encouraged people across the country to take time to reflect on the past year and remember those who lost their lives, by observing a minutes silence and lighting candles from their doorsteps.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Retired Beryl, 83 and Bill Howard, 86, who live at Holly Bank, reflected on the past year and said their family has helped them through a difficult 12 months.

Beryl told the Post yesterday: "We have got through the lockdown together - we haven't let anything stop us. We are slow, but we get there.

"We look after ourselves and try to cope on our own but have two children and grandchildren who would do anything for us and have always been there when we needed them.

"The lockdown has been boring for us and we haven't known what we can and can't do in this last lockdown so just want to get back to normality now.

Beryl and Bill Howard said didn't let anything stop them during the pandemic

"Nobody we know has died from Covid and I think we have been extremely lucky with our family because they have all stayed safe."

Shirley Harrison, from Fulwood, got Covid-19 back last year before the national lockdown and spent her time in isolation volunteering. Her husband Eddie didn't catch the virus.

Shirley said: "I actually had Covid-19 last year before the lockdown and all the testing and it was absolutely awful. Nobody knew much about it so you were left completely on your own and I felt like somebody was standing on my chest.

"I couldn't breath and spent that night asking if I would even wake up tomorrow. I only knew that I had the virus is because I got sent one of the test kits last year which told me I had the antibodies. My partner Eddie is like superman, he managed to escape getting the virus.

Shirley and Eddie Harrison lost friends and neighbours in their community to the virus

"In lockdown, I have been a befriender for the Lancashire volunteering service so I have seen how tough this year has been especially for the elderly and isolated. I speak every week to a lady who hasn't been out for a year and is completely cut off.

"We speak every Thursday afternoon and she actually makes me feel better because she is so good-spirited about it now. I feel like lots of people are staying positive now because of the vaccine rollout and are looking to the future. Seeing the difficult situations people are in really made us realise how lucky we are and have been over the last year.

"We took part in the one-minute silence to remember all those people in our community who we have lost."

Council leaders from across Lancashire also showed their support for the national day of remembrance, with flags being raised at half-mast to mark the occasion.

Prominent city buildings illuminated bright yellow last night to mark the first anniversary of the national lockdown

Leader of Preston City Council Matthew Brown announced that he was "immensely proud" of communities in the city.

Speaking yesterday, he said: “The past 12 months have been unlike any we have ever seen. In the space of a year, everyone’s lives have been turned upside-down and many people have lost family and friends to this cruel virus.

“But amongst this suffering, there are countless inspiring stories of individuals stepping up to support each other and their communities. We have seen volunteer food hubs established to support struggling families as well as befriending and communal worship to provide comfort during the darkest periods of this struggle. I am immensely proud of our communities and proud of the city of Preston.

“As we come together to reflect on the past year and the continued fight against the virus my thoughts are with everyone who has lost people close to them, and the continued sacrifices that are being made so that we may return to normal life.”

Leader of South Ribble Borough Council Paul Foster said the past 12 months were the ‘hardest we have had to face in history.’

And Councillor Alistair Bradley, Leader of Chorley Council said, “We fully supported the National commemoration for all those we have lost to Covid-19 and paid tribute to our front line workers who have so worked so incredibly hard over the last 12 months to save lives and ensure the safety of our communities."

St Cuthbert's church was among those offering reflective spaces for people to reminisce over a difficult year

People stood on their doorsteps and clapped every Thursday to show their support for all front line and NHS workers who were battling rising levels of Covid-19 cases earlier this year.

And they were encouraged by Marie Curie to return to their doorsteps once more yesterday evening with torches, phone lights and candles to signify a 'beacon of remembrance'.

Marie Curie’s Head of Community Fundraising at Preston said: "The National Day of Reflection was 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' but the day was also about celebrating our sense of community, and showing those who are coping with grief that they are not alone.”

Speaking to the Post, Mukhtar Master, a Muslim representative for 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."

A moment of silence was upheld among flickering candle flames yesterday at St Cuthbert's Church, Fulwood. It was one place of worship of many that offered an open space for people to reflect on the unprecedented past 12 months

.Michael Hutchinson, a church Curate said: "We offered different things to the community to allow them to reflect on the past year. We hosted a short service of reflection at 11 am which was offered both in-person and online.

"We gave people the chance to come into the church to pause and reminisce at midday and offered candles for people to put on their doorsteps or in their windows to show the connection with one another in the evening.

"Going forward, we are offering a space in the church to the community as a place of reflection whether they are religious or not. We can all learn so much from the past year and we will be putting together a recovery space in the church for people to process what we have all been through."

Thanks for reading. If you value what we do and are able to support us, a digital subscription is just £1 per month for the first two months. Try us today by ​clicking here.