Having recently gone through the process of contracting this coronavirus – luckily with relatively mild symptoms – I now find myself on the other side of the illness, but still in no less a state of social distance and general isolation.
As we are all learning, this is a strange, frustrating and often distressing experience when the presence of family and friends is no longer possible and the normal structures of life are suddenly removed. At such an unprecedented and anxious time in all our lives, my wife and I are thinking particularly of all those who have lost their loved ones in such very difficult and abnormal circumstances, and of those having to endure sickness, isolation and loneliness.
As Patron of Age U.K., and my wife the Patron of SilverLine, our hearts go out to all those older people throughout this country who are now experiencing great difficulty. However, we also know that in every community up and down this land – where people of all ages are being affected by this virus – there are truly wonderful neighbours, individuals and groups of volunteers who are providing ceaseless care and attention to those most at risk and that all this network of selfless assistance is, in itself, helping to provide vital support and reassurance to the hard-pressed professional services.
And at a time when doctors, nurses and all the vital ancillary staff that form the backbone of our remarkable N.H.S. are increasingly under such appalling strain, and risk, as they battle heroically to save lives in intensive care centres and to contain, as much as possible, the spread of this virus, our thoughts and prayers are very much with those marvellous people whose extraordinary skills and utter, selfless devotion to duty and the care of their patients make us so proud.
Indeed, it has been so wonderful to see just how many across the U.K. have signed up in their hundreds of thousands to be N.H.S. volunteers, offering their help to do whatever they can to provide support to those on the front line. It is clearly essential, therefore, that such key people are treated with special consideration when coming off their exhausting duties and trying to do their shopping, for instance, while having to contend with constant anxiety about their own families and friends.
In this regard, we also think of all those many shop-workers who are toiling as hard as they can throughout each and every night to keep supermarket shelves stocked – a further “emergency service” on which we are all relying.
As a nation, we are faced by a profoundly challenging situation, which we are only too aware threatens the livelihoods, businesses and welfare of millions of our fellow citizens. None of us can say when this will end, but end it will. Until it does, let us all live with hope in the knowledge that we are all in this together and, with faith in ourselves and each other, look forward to better times to come.