Norfolk writers launch lockdown book for NHS

Michelle Gant, of Dereham, with her four-year-old daughter Thea, holding up the book When the World Paused, sitting at a...

Michelle Gant, of Dereham, with her four-year-old daughter Thea, and the book When the World Paused - Credit: MICHELLE GANT

When the new restrictions come into force, a group of writers from Norfolk took the opportunity to do something positive and raise vital funds for NHS charities.

When The World Paused is a new book reflecting on life during the first lockdown.

It began as a blog when Michelle Gant captured people's thoughts at the time and published them online.

In total, 76 people contributed from March to June, as Ms Gant, of Dereham, explained.

"When the lockdown was announced, I decided that I wanted to capture this significant time in words, particularly for my daughter. Her memories of this will be hazy at best. 

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"I also know how writing has always helped me to manage emotions and thoughts through difficult periods - and this was clearly a difficult time."

She opened the blog up by inviting friends and family to do the same, and was overwhelmed with the response.

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"Before long, the blog had a life of its own.

"It was attracting huge numbers and to date there have been over 10,000 views of the site.

"What was really special about the blog was that people were so open, honest, and vulnerable in their reflections. I felt really privileged that so many people shared of themselves - the way they were feeling, their mental health struggles, their fears and hopes. It was a project that really connected us together when we had to stay apart."

Book cover of When the World Paused filled with the faces of those who contributed

The book cover of When the World Paused - Credit: MICHELLE GANT

In mid-June, Ms Gant set about turning the reflections into a book. With the help of the other writers, she self-published the book on Amazon at the end of October with all profits going to NHS charities.

Over half of the contributors are from Norfolk, including Ms Gant's five-year-old daughter, Thea, who was four when she completed her piece.

One contributor, Ange Fox, wrote movingly about a bereavement she suffered during lockdown.

"Taking part came at a time when I had a lot of sadness, frustration and anger all swirling around inside of me and writing it all down was a way of releasing those feelings."

When The World Paused is on sale via Amazon with all profits going to NHS charities.

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