‘I dressed as a baby one week’ - How a creative dad brought smiles to a Norfolk street in lockdown
Picture: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOP
A father-of-two has been praised for his efforts keeping morale up for both his family, and on the close where they live in north Norfolk.
Paul Wade, of Howard’s Way, Cawston, had to change his life following the government’s decision to impose a lockdown back in March.
The decorator and renovator decided there and then he was not going to let a pandemic get in the way of bringing smiles to the faces of the people he cared about the most.
The 54-year-old said: “It was very hard for all of us but I wanted to try and keep everyone’s spirits up in the best way I knew how.
“Especially with Sharon, my wife, working for the NHS. It was important for us, as a family, to show our support.”
The couple, who met when they were teenagers at Reepham High School, have been married for 30 years.
Mrs Wade, also 54, has been a midwife for 29 years and works at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, and before that she worked as a nurse.
This became one of the reasons the weekly Clap for Carers every Thursday night became such an important moment for the Wade family.
Mr Wade explained why it inspired him and daughters Libby, 16, and Ebony, 10, to dress up to a theme of their choosing every week - taking inspiration from national events as well as personal things happening in their week, such as a friend giving birth.
“We dressed up in St George’s Day outfits, nurses’ uniforms, doctors,” he said. “I even dressed up as a giant baby one week.
“The neighbours all came out to see what outfits we’d picked that week and kept asking us what we were going to dress up as next but it would always be a secret.
“We wanted to do it to have some fun but also to send Sharon photos to show to her work colleagues while they were on shift, to help keep moral up for them.”
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Mrs Wade would often be clueless as to what photo she would receive, as the outfits and theme would be kept top secret.
She added: “It has been stressful.
“I’ve been working ever since the start of the pandemic and continued working through the lockdown. It’s been hard. But getting the photos from Paul and the girls really did cheer us all up on delivery ward.”
And it was not just Mr and Mrs Wade who tried to make the best of things during lockdown.
The couple explained how their daughters used the time wisely and “thrived” after being forced into home-schooling.
“We are a close family but these two have been inseparable,” Mr Wade explained while watching his daughters chase the family dog, Popcorn, around the garden.
Neither of the girls were able to sit their exams (GCSEs and Year 6 SATs) but that did not stop them from transforming rooms in their home into a fully-fledged classroom.
Libby, who will be starting A-Levels at Reepham College next month, has ambitions to become a primary school teacher. She helped Ebony, who turns 11 on August 17 and is looking forward to her first day at Reepham High School, with her studies. She even printed off an old SATs exam for her sister to do from home and created a topics board to display work.
Mr Wade added: “They have been studying from 9am to 3pm every single day.
“Libby has been making up power points to show on the TV and turned the dinning room into a classroom. Ebony helped her older sister by looking at Spanish flashcards to help her revise.”
The girls were also able to celebrate Libby’s prom from home by getting dressed up, Ebony’s sports day from the front of the house, and a pretend circus event which Ebony but on herself.
Mr and Mrs Wade added: “The local school and its staff, especially Mrs Swann and Mrs Dafforn, have been fantastic helping all of the pupils during the school closure.”
Together, the family have thrived and hoped to inspire other families that there is still fun to had even during “the most difficult of times”.
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