Services, lights and silence: Norfolk marks year since lockdown

Covid memorial at Norwich Cathedral in January 2021, when the number of deaths across Norfolk from t

A candle from the Norwich Cathedral coronavirus memorial. - Credit: Bill Smith / Norwich Cathedral

Today people will pause, think of loved ones and light candles to remember those affected by coronavirus on the first anniversary of the lockdown.

Across the country people are being encouraged to have a minute's silence at noon for the Marie Curie National Day of Reflection as well as light candles at 8pm to remember people who died from the virus.

In Norfolk landmark buildings will be lit up, including Great Yarmouth Town Hall and King's Lynn Town Hall, messages of hope will be broadcast from the town's civic leaders across social media and church bells will ring out.

A special service from Norwich Cathedral, featuring live songs from the choir and prayers from the Very Rev Jane Hedges, Dean of Norwich Cathedral, will be live streamed online from 5.30pm.

The very reverend Jane Hedges, Dean of Norwich. Photograph: Norwich Cathedral/Bill Smith

Dean of Norwich Cathedral the Very Rev Jane Hedges. - Credit: Archant

People can watch the Vigil of Lamentation and Hope on the cathedral's YouTube Channel.

Some churches around the county will also be open for people to light candles and reflect privately.

Two of the churches doing this are St Cuthbert's Church on Wroxham Road, Sprowston, and St Mary and St Margaret's Church on Church Lane, Sprowston.

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The Rev Canon Simon Stokes, who is vicar of the Sprowston benefice, 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."

Rev Simon Stokes with the war memorial at St Cuthbert's Church, Sprowston.Photo by Simon Finlay.

Vicar of Sprowston the Rev Canon Simon Stokes. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

He added grief was a journey and it would be good to have an annual remembrance service relating to coronavirus but only if it helps the nation to learn lessons from the past year.

This would help the UK become a "stronger nation", according to Mr Stokes.

Debbie Gothard, 54, from Hingham, whose father, Brian Gothard, 86, died from coronavirus on April 23 last year, thought a permanent memorial garden would be welcomed by families.

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

Mrs Gothard said today'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...

Susan Gothard playing the bagpipes every Thursday in memory of her father-in-law, Brian Gothard, at her home in Hingham, pictured with her wife, Debbie. - 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, will play a special song tonight.

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council paid tribute to the county's efforts and families who have lost loved ones during the past year.

Andrew Proctor has sent a scathing letter to the Planning Inspectorate over its decision to allow 17

Andrew Proctor has sent a scathing letter to the Planning Inspectorate over its decision to allow 170 homes to be built in Brundall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

He said: "My thoughts are with those families and communities affected by the death or serious illness of a loved one. It has been so hard to grieve, with numbers limited at funerals and travel restrictions in place.

“I have been consistently humbled by Norfolk’s response to this unprecedented pandemic. People have made great personal sacrifices to follow the rules and try to curb Covid – not seeing loved ones, friends and colleagues. And that’s been a really hard call for everyone.

“The county and district councils, the NHS, schools, the care sector, emergency services and voluntary sector have worked really well to protect the vulnerable and keep key services running. That’s showed the true spirit of working better together.

“I want to retain the positives of the last year – strong community spirit, effective partnership working and a resilient, responsive economy – so that Norfolk can build back better.”

People can visit the coronavirus memorial in Norwich Cathedral for private prayer between 6.30pm-8pm tonight.