Review of 2020: Hope amid the shadow of coronavirus in Norfolk

Clap for Carers Norfolk & Norwich Hospital 30th April 2020. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Clap for Carers at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in April. - Credit: Archant

The spread of coronavirus means 2020 has been a year like no other - and it is one many people would like to forget.

But, amid the horrors of this lethal pandemic, which has affected every one of us, there have been moments to illuminate the gloom.

There have been times when the spirit of people in Norfolk has triumphed in the face of this killer virus, where kindness and generosity have cast away the shadows.

This became clear in the early days of the pandemic, when people realised just what an impact Covid-19 was going to have on one of the UK's most cherished and valued institutions - the NHS.

Cat Hussey and her daughters Charlotte, 6, and Danielle, 4, of Attleborough, join in the nation's Cl

Cat Hussey and her daughters Charlotte, 6, and Danielle, 4, of Attleborough, join in the nation's Clap for Carers to thank the NHS workers. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Many across Norfolk and Suffolk embraced the weekly Clap For Carers, with neighbourhoods turning out to applaud the key workers trying to save lives amid the first wave of the pandemic.

Pictures of rainbows, showing support for the NHS, were put up in windows, painted on walls, or chalked on pavements as people expressed their appreciation for the health workers.

Pictures from the Lock Down 2020. A rainbow thank you to NHS staff. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

A lockdown rainbow to thank the NHS. - Credit: Archant

The was clapping, cheering and fireworks as the region came together in solidarity for NHS staff during the coronavirus pandemic.


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At a time when national lockdown was enforced, going out on to the doorstep to clap helped bring communities together at a time when the horrific impact of the virus was only just becoming clear. 

In March, Eloise Williamson, from Drayton, said: "I am tucked away in a corner of a close but I could still hear the clapping for miles.

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"There were people cheering, clapping, honking horns and even banging saucepans with spoons.

"The atmosphere was incredible and it was so heart-warming to see our community come together to celebrate all those who are working hard for us all.”

Heart-warming was an excellent description and one which also applied to the magnificent response for help in getting vital supplies to those who were having to shield due to the pandemic.

A call for a volunteer army to make sure people were not going without led to 3,000 people registering to help by the end of April.

Alan Hopley, chief executive of Voluntary Norfolk said he was "astounded" by the response.

Voluntary Norfolk chief executive Alan Hopley said he was 'astounded' by the response to an appeal f

Alan Hopley, chief executive of Voluntary Norfolk. - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

Community groups sprang up offering to help with shopping for vulnerable neighbours - with this newspaper joining forces with Norfolk County Council for a Here To Help campaign.

Council officers were moved from their usual duties to help at coronavirus hubs -  making welfare calls, delivering food parcels, making hundreds of medical pick-ups to thousands of the most vulnerable people in Norfolk.

Council leader Brian Long. Photo: Matthew Usher

West Norfolk Council leader Brian Long takes part in Clap for Carers. - Credit: Matthew Usher

In May, it was announced that the remarkable generosity of Norfolk people had raised £1m for the Covid-19 Community Response Fund.

That fund was set up as the pandemic started to spread to build up a pot of money for Norfolk Community Foundation to distribute to charities.

Elsewhere, the foodbanks around Norfolk and Suffolk continued their excellent work to ensure people did not go hungry at a time when people had lost their jobs or were at risk of losing them.

Hannah Worsley, project manager of Norwich Foodbank, said in May: "I think a few had worried we’d stopped completely and when they realise we haven’t the relief in their voice is just incredible.

"On a small level, seeing someone different, that just breaks the day up and makes it better.

"Seeing someone that cares as well and is happy to have a conversation helps.”

Project manager at Norwich food bank Hannah Worsley. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Hannah Worsley, project manager at Norwich Foodbank. - Credit: Nick Butcher

And, towards the end of the year came a much-needed shot in the arm. Quite literally.

The first vaccine was rolled out, with people at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston the first to receive jabs.

Kenneth Ireland was the first patient at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital to receive his coronavirus vaccine

Kenneth Ireland was the first patient at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital to receive his coronavirus vaccine - Credit: Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital

Kenneth Ireland, 86, from Wymondham got a round of applause as he become the first person to roll up his sleeve for the Pfizer jab at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital at the start of December.

Mr Ireland said: "That couldn’t have gone any smoother. The set-up is brilliant as are all the people included in it.”

Staff congratulated Mr Ireland with a round of applause, to which he replied "you deserve a lot of them".

Mr Ireland wished all the staff "merry Christmas" as he left and was offered a chocolate on his way out.



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