WITH a new normal now on the horizon, I look back at the time spent in lockdown with a mixture of emotions. Sadness at lives lost and the impact that lockdown has had on all of us: for many it’s been major and for the minority it’s been minor.

However, I would like to use this opportunity through Have Your Say to give thanks and express my appreciation to those who have made my time in lockdown much brighter than it would otherwise have been without them. Obviously, it goes without saying thank you to EVERY individual who has worked during lockdown to ensure that care, food, and essential services have been maintained.

On a slightly more personal level, however, I would like to say thank you to those who have been local and known to me. Firstly, thank you to my wonderful husband whose hand has been there for me to hold when I have cried (my elderly father is now receiving palliative care and I have only just seen him for the first time in over three months - my mother is in a dementia care home and I have not seen her at all during lockdown).

Thank you to our wonderful caring daughter and son-in-law (living in London) for sharing photos and videos via social media of our new grand-daughter born just before lockdown and whom we have yet to meet. Thank you to Julie and Brian for being the best couple of friends for whom anyone could wish: even with their own worries and concerns they have kept the support and contact going.

Much love and appreciation to my friend Barbara for our telephone chats especially during those times when I have found myself missing my mum so much. Thank you to Paul and Tom for being so thoughtful in sending us flowers and chocs.

Thank you to ALL my neighbours but especially to the following: Anne, for sharing the odd glass of wine from the confines of our driveways; Jennie and David, isolating but always waving from the window; Neil and Jo and family for sharing the guinea pigs; Bridget and family for pre-empting lockdown, thus being the first on the scene to offer help and support; Derek and Liz for all the giggles we have shared over the fence and over the phone and for the homemade bread puddings; Vanessa and Andy for taking stuff from our skip which they then recycled in an ingenious way and put to good use to help others; Pam, Roger, Anna and Frasier for making a donation to Friends of Lodmoor Park in return for the household items I no longer needed; Gordon and Norma for the lawn advice and the tomato plant. Last but never least, Margaret who lights up our neighbourhood with her smiling, cheerful personality and whose beautiful rose display gives so much joy to all.

I would like to thank Emma and her team at Medivet (Dorchester Road) for seeing my two cats as emergencies at the height of lockdown. A big thank you to Dave at Lodmoor Post-Office for selling a variety of masks without inflating the prices and for stocking a wonderful range of food and household essentials. Thank you to Lloyd’s Pharmacy for going above and beyond good customer service.

A thank you must go to Ryan from Altogether Care who walks past my house and though not a carer to me is always polite and cheerful and says hello.

Thank you to the local Echo for keeping all its readers so up-to-date with accurate and fair reporting and not saturating the contents of the paper with Covid-only news.

There are many others to whom I am grateful and if you are reading this please know that whilst not included in this letter you are included in my heart.

Julia Squibb