I don’t venture to compare this past year with the Luftwaffe blitz of WWII, but in my lifetime this is as close as I’ve come to witnessing a war in England’s green and pleasant land; the enemy all about, everything shut down, many people dying and sick, health and emergency services stretched to the limit.
But, as it has always been in this country during a national threat, the strength of our community has risen to the battle. Over the course of the pandemic I have been constantly uplifted and in admiration of the way people across this wonderful constituency of Maidstone & The Weald, and not least the good people of Cranbrook and Sissinghurst, have come together and supported each other.
Early this year, by way of example, the stream of those most-at-risk from Covid-19 heading to Headcorn or Ticehurst for their vaccinations was thanks in large part to the Herculean efforts of Dr Faye Hinsley and her fantastic team at The Ridge Primary Care Network. The Ridge PCN, in turn, have been supported in their challenge by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC), alongside a team of volunteers, playing a critical role in booking people for their vaccination appointments.
TWBC have also worked extremely hard administering financial grants provided by the Government to help businesses through this period. I am under no illusion as to how much of a hammer-blow the lockdown restrictions have been for our small businesses, but these grants have made things just slightly easier for some, as well as protecting many jobs.
From recent conversations I have had with the Headteachers at Cranbrook School and High Weald Academy, I also know of some of the remarkable lengths teachers have taken in the last few months; going way above-and-beyond the basic teaching requirements to create enjoyable, interactive, virtual lessons for their pupils, even whilst their schools have been closed.
British stoicism in the face of adversity has been the tenet throughout our Wealden villages, with so many acts of individual help and kindness from countless residents; checking-in on their neighbours, delivering essential food and medicine, and telephoning and chatting with those whom they know to be self-isolating.
All of these combined efforts have made an enormous difference to the lives of thousands and I would like to offer a huge thank you to every single person who has contributed to this inspirational community effort.