Praise for the unsung heroes helping us through coronavirus crisis

PUBLISHED: 07:57 06 April 2020 | UPDATED: 07:57 06 April 2020

Chancellor Rishi Sunak and prime minister Boris Johnso outside 10 Downing Street applauding NHS staff who are trying to battle coronavirus last month. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

Chancellor Rishi Sunak and prime minister Boris Johnso outside 10 Downing Street applauding NHS staff who are trying to battle coronavirus last month. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

The Lady Dannatt MBE, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Norfolk, says the goodwill shown by so many people across the county is heart-warming during this coronavirus pandemic

When I last wrote an article for this paper, almost three weeks ago now, I remarked on the resilience, sense of fairness and integrity of the vast majority of Norfolk people. But even then, I had no idea of the scale of the courageous and selfless service right across the county. And I’m not just talking about NHS workers here, as incredible as all those frontline men and women are: doctors, nurses, cleaners, paramedics, pharmacists and receptionists, we salute you and thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

But today I want to raise awareness of other local men and women who are quietly going about their daily work without the accolades. I want to talk about Terry and Jo who run the small shop in our next-door village. Terry is vulnerable, staying at home to look after their two young boys. Jo rises as early as 4am to sort and deliver newspapers, visit the wholesalers and then promptly open up shop some two hours later. I have never seen Jo without a smile on her face; she and thousands like her are an inspiration to us all.

Farmers, council workers, delivery drivers, those stacking our supermarket shelves, our armed forces, our superb police, thank you so much for keeping us safe and fed. Teachers, for adapting, and for giving up your Easter break. Faith leaders, for stepping up and watching out for your own, and for others too; all human beings in need of reassurance and comfort. Those employed in our care homes. Some, like staff working at Fairland House in Attleborough have moved in entirely, rather than risk infecting vulnerable residents.

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All, wherever they are working, are determined to minimise the effects of this crisis on the vulnerable in their care. Elderly men and women who have often sacrificed much for this nation of ours in the past; I thank their carers today from the bottom of my heart.

And prison officers, who sometimes have one of the toughest and most thankless jobs in society. Life in our prisons tends to mirror life outside when it comes to panic, fear and stress. We owe our governors, prison staff, the prison chaplaincy, all trainers and volunteers a huge debt of gratitude for everything they do to keep anxious prisoners safe.

Yes, we live in scary times. But already the good within our county far outweighs the bad. Thank you all who are adhering so stringently to the government advice; already, we are being told of the real difference it is making.

Finally, a perennial plea. For some, when home should be a place of safety and nurture, it is precisely the opposite – one of torment and despair instead. We are seeing a sharp rise in domestic violence and in tandem, the watching of vile illicit and illegal material online.

Small children and the “invisibles” in our communities are particularly at risk. If you have any concerns at all, please don’t hesitate to contact the police, NSPCC or a trusted community worker.

It is my hope that Norfolk comes through this crisis an even kinder, more aware and more inclusive place to live and thrive.

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