A year like no other: how Mid Sussex has come together to give support and comfort during the pandemic

It is hard to believe we have been living through a pandemic for a whole year.

Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 2:57 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 2:58 pm

On March 23, 2020, the country was plunged into a national lockdown.

Shops and pubs shut, cars disappeared and streets emptied as people rushed to the supermarkets to stock up their shelves with pasta and toilet rolls.

The uncertain times were compared to the Second World War by national treasure and Ditchling resident Dame Vera Lynn who sadly died just three months later, aged 103.

Clap for Carers: Emergency services and key workers join NHS staff at the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath to thank them for their care of Covid-19 patients. Picture: Brighton and  Sussex University Hospitals Trust
Clap for Carers: Emergency services and key workers join NHS staff at the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath to thank them for their care of Covid-19 patients. Picture: Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust

The Forces’ Sweetheart reflected on a time when ‘we all pulled together and looked after each other’.

And she told Middy readers it was this spirit that we all needed to find again ‘to weather the storm of coronavirus’.

And we did – a year on, new covid cases have plummeted and there is hope for the future – at last.

But let’s not forget the thousands of lives this virus has cruelly claimed, leaving so many families across the country heartbroken.

Katherine Saunders, CEO of Alliance for Better Care (left) Dr Katie Spensley, site clinical lead (centre) and Dr Katie Archibald (right) at Clair Hall in Haywards Heath

And if it wasn’t for our heroic NHS staff who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic, there could have been thousands more.

Remember when we clapped for our health heroes every Thursday on our doorsteps? This is an example of how our community came together in such dire circumstances.

In April, we launched our #HealthHeroes campaign to celebrate Mid Sussex heroes who were making such a difference to our communities during the tough times.

This included our Princess Royal Hospital Delivery Suite staff, pharmacies, and wonderful residents who went above and beyond to help others.

Volunteers at Clair Hall in Haywards Heath

We’ve honoured the teachers who have gone the extra mile to keep remote learning as positive as possible for our children, but also the many people keeping our supermarket shelves stocked, driving delivery vans, emptying our bins, and ensuring our plumbing and electrical crises can be sorted.

As the vaccination rollout began our newspaper joined with its sister titles around the country to campaign for local vaccination centres, and it has been hugely gratifying to see the total number of those who have had the jab rising steadily week by week.

The Alliance for Better Care said this week that Clair Hall had now administered more than 36,000 doses of the vaccine.

The vaccine centres could not run without the army of volunteers working to greet and care for people as well as helping out behind the scenes.

Volunteers mobilised quickly during the early days of lockdown, ensuring isolated people were not suffering alone, that shopping could be bought and a friendly word exchanged.

In this week’s Middy, which is out on Thursday (March 25), we share a few examples of the way Mid Sussex communities have coped and adapted over the past year.