How ‘Lockdown Liz’ has shown that Cromer Cares.
- Credit: Archant
Liz Quigley has been a real tonic for residents of Cromer by helping with their shopping during lockdown, says Keith Skipper.
My wife and I – to purloin and slightly change a regal-sounding introduction – celebrated the 40th anniversary of when we first met with a recent doorstep cabaret starring a latter-day Cupid carrying a colourful bouquet.
All in a day’s voluntary work for a lively lass we have come to know and admire as “Lockdown Liz” since March when Cromer Cares was set up to help more vulnerable residents through the coronavirus pandemic.
Liz Quigley, blessed with infectious smile, puckish wit and obvious relish for just being useful, has proved a regular tonic, especially on the weekly shopping front, while we’ve been confined to barracks.
She’s also taken on many other errands with a will and supplemented our catch-up calls from family and friends by delivering snippets of news collected on her cheerful rounds in Cromer and environs.
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Her lead role in impromptu revels to mark exactly four decades since I first set eyes on the girl destined to be my wife, driving inspiration and shopper-in-chief, sort of set the seal on an uplifting chapter in a grim unfolding story of recent months.
Passing on our customary list of weekend provisions required, I realised there was nothing in the romantic cupboard for me to serve up on milestone day. Liz said she’d make sure I could say it with flowers – and even offered to add a musical salute.
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I turned that down on grounds of drawing too much attention to my glorious sense of occasion and possibly causing embarrassment in front of curious neighbours. So Liz presented anniversary blossoms with her customary flourish of good wishes tied up in smiles.
She is quick to play down her part in what has turned into a global version of Good Neighbours for over three months. ”There are so many people quietly doing good deeds simply because they can.
“I often hear the comment ‘This has restored my faith in human nature’ but I believe folk generally just want to help. In this instance, Cromer Cares has given me and many others that opportunity”.
Liz, who usually responds to warm thanks with her catchphrase “Always a pleasure, never a chore”, hopes to continue her volunteering when our current crisis eases enough for even the most diffident to resume what used to be regular outings.
“I would still encourage anyone struggling for any reason to reach out to organisations and charities here to help. You are not a burden. Share the load” says “Lockdown Liz”, a vibrant example of the vital supporting network keeping us safe and optimistic on a strange journey from springtime into summer.
A few facts and figures behind the helping hands of Cromer Cares, launched in mid-March with town council clerk Julie Chance and her deputy Janet Warner co-ordinating efforts while working closely with local councillor Tim Adams.
They have built up an army of over 200 volunteers and provided assistance for over 1,550 households in the town and 10 surrounding villages. Another local councillor, Mick Hayhurst, has taken on a main organising role for a valuable befriending scheme.
For those who might have muttered so often in the past “They’re only in it for themselves”, I reckon a loud whisper of apology could be in order to recognise a first-rate example of how valuable local councils can be.
Local knowledge and contacts are at the heart of this stirring response to the most unlikely of challenges. Voluntary service, starting for some before 6am and finishing after 10pm, has cleared a path of help and hope through a jungle of doubt and fear.
Telephone contact number for Cromer Cares is 01263 512245 or email email@example.com
While my view of such a massive supporting programme may have been limited to doorstep social-distancing for several weeks, I know how priceless support has flowed up and down the streets around us.
One of our first callers bearing essential food supplies and key advice on survival plans was Sam Grout, chairman of the local chamber of trade. He and a band of fellow business folk pooled delivery services to keep rations flowing and underline value of co-operation.
Our post and newspapers have been delivered promptly throughout the crisis. Our dustbins emptied with what has become a welcome early-morning clang to remind us some things are meant to stay unaltered. Our spirits lifted by waves from neighbours, some in the same doorstep rescue boat.
Our faith in local values enhanced.