Lockdown anniversary gives opportunity to praise ‘inspiring community spirit’

Horsham people should be inspired by the community spirit shown in the last year.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 12:16 pm

This is the message from cabinet member for Horsham District Council leisure and culture councillor Jonathan Chowen as he reflected on 12 months of lockdown restrictions.

On the national day of reflection, March 23, he said: “Whilst the National Day of Reflection will afford us the time to pause and reflect at the unprecedented difficulties many of us have had to face over the past twelve months, we cannot help but also be inspired by displays of resourcefulness and community spirit over this time.

“Much has been emphasized about the role that nature has played and how the natural world has brought comfort and strength to many.”

Horsham town centre in November 2020. Picture: Steve Robards SR2011101

Mr Chowen added that people have had much more time to explore the outdoors particularly in their local area.

He said: “We have experienced increased numbers of local residents enjoying all that our parks and open spaces have to offer; Chesworth Farm, Leechpool and Owlbeech Woods and Horsham Park, amongst many others. And more people have had the time to explore our district on foot or by cycle than ever before.

“As we now prepare to open up our parks and amenities more fully, we hope that this trend will continue and people will continue to enjoy the considerable health and wellbeing benefits of our local natural environment.”

Council chairman councillor Karen Burgess said today marks the anniversary of the UK going into lockdown for the first time.

She added: “Here across the Horsham District, we are planning to support this day of commemoration by observing a one minute silence at 12noon and taking part in a doorstep vigil at 8pm, to both remember those who have died, and to show support for everyone who has been bereaved.”

The campaign is spearheaded by end of life charity Marie Curie, and the day will give communities a moment to remember, grieve and celebrate anyone who has died during this difficult time and show support for those who are grieving, she added.

Mrs Burgess said: “I would urge as many of you as possible to join us and take part if you are able.”

The leader of West Sussex County Council, councillor Paul Marshall, said the pandemic changes lives overnight and continues to impact everyone.

He added: “On this day one year ago, our country entered a period of national restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The pandemic changed our lives overnight and continues to impact on us all.

“Today we reflect on all we have experienced in the last year, especially the tragic loss of many of our loved ones to Covid-19. We will carry them forever in our hearts.”

The Storrington councillor said amid the sadness there have been so many instances of compassion and kindness.

He added: “Across the country and our county, we’ve worked together, while we have had to stay apart, to protect the vulnerable and prevent the spread of the virus.

“This spring as the days get brighter, we can start to look forward to a better summer ahead. A key part of this hope is the NHS vaccine programme which is well underway.

“I am very grateful to all workers and volunteers across our county who are delivering vaccines as swiftly as possible.”

More than 370,000 West Sussex residents received a vaccine by mid-March, with more people being given a jab every day, he said.

Mr Marshall added: “The vaccine rollout, along with Covid-19 prevention measures such as ‘hands, face and space’, will help us be able to carefully regain a new form of normality as we keep West Sussex safe.

“I’ll be observing the minute silence at noon today and the 8pm moment of reflection this evening. I will remember those we have lost and the challenges we’ve faced.

“And finally, and very importantly, I would like to say a huge thank you to all for the part you have played in the pandemic response.

“Thank you to frontline workers keeping services running and essential shops open. Thank you to everyone working in education, health services and social care. Thank you all at home, at work and volunteering. Every individual action has helped to carry us through.”