Our leaders reflect on one year since the first national lockdown

Welwyn Hatfield

Leaders from across Welwyn Hatfield and Hertsmere have marked the one year anniversary of the first national lockdown. - Credit: Archant

Today marks a year since Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a national lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The leaders from across our area have reflected on the unprecedented and challenging year we have all endured since.

Welwyn Hatfield MP and Transport Minister Grant Shapps

Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps delivering a daily coronavirus update last year - Credit: BBC

Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps said: "It’s been a really challenging year for all of us. Who would have thought at the beginning of last year that, in only a few months’ time, we’d be in a nation-wide lockdown to protect ourselves from a global pandemic?

"It’s been tough on everyone – keeping apart from loved ones, not going out to work, studying and learning from home. Businesses have been placed under enormous pressure, many of which are only still going today on account of the generous support the government has provided in the form of staff furloughs and other grants and loans.

"Most tragically of all, we all know people who have lost friends and family. And we mourn them all.

"Of course, there are also aspects of the last year we will look back on with pride. The way Welwyn Hatfield has pulled together. The resilience our local NHS staff have shown when working at any and all hours in the battle against this virus.

"Local charities and volunteers like Sarah Jamieson of Resolve, who literally moved in with the homeless people she was helping to find accommodation during lockdown. And, of course, all those involved in the Herculean effort that is our vaccination roll-out, some of whom I had the pleasure of meeting when I had my first jab at the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield recently.

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"One year and three lockdowns later, the remarkable rollout of our vaccine programme means that we’re now able to look forward to a cautious but final route back to normality.

"Well over 50 per cent of all adults in the UK have now been vaccinated - no other major economy in the world has vaccinated its population faster. We know it will take time for things to get back to normal, but thanks to the fortitude of the people of Welwyn Hatfield, as well as the hard work of our scientists, our brilliant NHS workers, our military and the army of volunteers across the entire country, we are embarking upon the journey to recovery."

Ka Ng chief executive of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council

Chief executive of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, Ka Ng. - Credit: WHBC

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council chief executive, Ka Ng, said: "It is with a mixture of both tremendous pride but great sadness, that I look back over the last twelve months.

"I am so proud of Welwyn Hatfield’s incredible community spirit as residents, council officers, councillors, local businesses and voluntary groups have come together to support those most in need while keeping our vital services going.

"From thank-you messages to our bin men, the NHS and local shop staff, to rainbow filled windows; I have been blown away by people’s kindness.

"As everyone has bravely faced the madness, the last year has also seen too many suffer the pain of losing loved ones. My thoughts are with all those who have sadly lost their lives to COVID-19 and the many who are still battling with the effects of long COVID.

"We’ve been through a lot together, but one thing it has taught me is that together we can achieve great things. That’s why, as we light up our buildings and landmarks on 23 March to mark the anniversary of the first coronavirus lockdown, I see a bright future ahead."

Hertsmere Borough Council's managing director Sajida Bijle

Hertsmere Borough Council's managing director Sajida Bijle - Credit: Blake Ezra Photography.

Hertsmere Borough Council’s managing director, Sajida Bijle,  reflected on the anniversary: "Today marks one year since the country, and the borough, first went into lockdown. It is a solemn milestone, after what for many has been a difficult and challenging year. 

“The Covid-19 pandemic has threatened our mental and physical health and wellbeing, it’s put businesses at risk, it’s had a huge impact on the education of our young people and it has cruelly taken people from their families and loved ones and ahead of their time.

“As is often the case during a time of great trials, this year has also brought out the best in people. I particularly want to thank all the volunteers who have given up their time to support others in our communities, whether by keeping an eye out for their neighbours, working at vaccination centres, helping with home deliveries or being a friendly ear when someone is feeling down.

“I also want to thank the council’s staff for their efforts to maintain essential services and help keep our communities safe during this unprecedented time."