Poignant day of reflection on coronavirus lockdown anniversary

The Dean of Norwich, the Very Rev Jane Hedges, lights a candle in the Peace Globe during the Remembr

The Dean of Norwich, the Very Rev Jane Hedges, lights a candle in the Peace Globe during the Remembrance Service at Norwich Cathedral for those who have died from Covid-19 one year on from the first lockdown. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Poignant reflections have taken place to remember lives lost to coronavirus on the year anniversary of the lockdown.

A Norwich Cathedral service was live streamed from the nave on the evening of March 23 and in the middle of the day people stopped to think of people affected by the virus.

A grove of nine Himalayan Birch trees planted as a symbol of hope

A grove of nine Himalayan Birch trees was planted as a symbol of hope amidst the pandemic. Picture: Diocese of Norwich. - Credit: Diocese of Norwich

Some churches remained open for private prayer where people could leave candles, bells rang out including from St Peter Mancroft Church on Norwich's Hay Hill, and people held doorstep candle vigils at 8pm.

Dean of Norwich Cathedral, the Very Rev Jane Hedges, who led the Vigil of Lamentation and Hope, said: "We will have the weight of grief and thinking of people who have lost their lives but we hope that the service will finish on a note of hope. It is so powerful when people do things together."

There are now over 2,000 crosses representing individuals from Norfolk and Waveney who died with virus in the cathedral's coronavirus memorial, which will be removed by this weekend.

People are invited to take a cross and an image of the display will be on a postcard, featuring a prayer.

The dean was hopeful for a permanent cathedral reminder and a coronavirus memorial plaque has been put in the garden of the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham Usher.

Bishop Graham said: "This national day of reflection gives us an opportunity to find meaning in silence.

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"We do need to find a way to mark this time of acute change and there may be various ways of doing that. A permanent memorial may be one way but perhaps a more meaningful legacy would be to ensure a thriving NHS and a prevalence of neighbourliness and community spirit.

"That spirit was always there, but it’s become more obvious and I hope we hold onto that as we emerge from this crisis."

The Rev Canon Simon Stokes, vicar of Sprowston, said he thought a physical memorial that helped people learn from the past year was a good idea.

He said: "We have seen a huge amount of people giving up their time and energy and the hope is that what we have learned from this pandemic is the importance of community, friends and family and society."

Debbie Gothard, 54, from Hingham, whose father, Brian Gothard, 86, died from coronavirus last year, thought a memorial garden would be welcomed.

She said: "I'm really sad. It is hard. I hope everybody out there struggling talks to someone."

Mrs Gothard said Tuesday's events made it easier to cope with the loss but felt a lot of people locally had forgotten about the virus and its impact on families.

Susan Gothard playing the bagpipes every Thursday in memory of her father-in-law, Brian Gothard, at her home in Hingham...

Debbie Gothard (right) whose father died with coronavirus in 2020. Her wife Susan plays the bagpipes every Thursday in his memory. - Credit: Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Her wife, musician Susan Gothard, 63, who has played the bagpipes every Thursday night for the past 52 weeks since her father-in-law's death, played a song on March 23.

Messages of support were also given by civic leaders.

Deputy mayor of King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council, Margaret Wilkinson, whose husband died this year, said: "There are many of us who are missing someone close. I share the pain. Stay strong. We are all in this together."

And Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council, was humbled by the county's response to coronavirus.

Buildings including Great Yarmouth and King's Lynn town halls and City Hall in Norwich were lit up to mark the Marie Curie-organised day of reflection.

Sam Higginson, cheif executive of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: NNUH

Sam Higginson, chief executive of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. - Credit: Archant

Sam Higginson, chief executive of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said: “I want to thank all our staff for their unwavering dedication and resilience during the Covid-19 pandemic. It has been a hugely challenging, exhausting and emotional time for us all."

Claire Cullens, chief executive of Norfolk Community Foundation.

Claire Cullens, chief executive of Norfolk Community Foundation. - Credit: Denise Bradley

Claire Cullens, chief executive of Norfolk Community Foundation which supports charitable groups, said: “The last 12 months have been incredibly tough for lots of us. The cracks that already existed in our society deepened and many people who were just about managing to get by before Covid-19 hit, are no longer coping. 

"Looking ahead, we know things won’t be easy as resources will be tight.  But we believe that by bringing people together we can make great things happen and ensure the post-covid Norfolk is even brighter for everyone.”

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