Marlborough in lockdown - in pictures
In February 2020 newsreaders began to report on a new, highly infectious and sometimes deadly disease - Coronavirus - that was sweeping through China at an alarming rate.
In March, as the infection reached Europe, the Town Council began to take large volumes of calls from people asking for help and it soon became clear that our small team wouldn't be able to do it alone.
On 13 March we put out a call for volunteers who might be able to help their more vulnerable neighbours and incredibly more than 300 of you stepped forward to help. Soon they were organised into neighbourhood groups and were out and about dropping contact cards through letter boxes and the Manton Residents Association set up a village support group too. Many residents called us for help later having thrown the cards away, not realising the significance of what was unfolding, but we made sure they were all put in touch with a volunteer.
Meanwhile, there were scenes of panic buying in supermarkets... The TV news showed people fighting over toilet rolls and other staples such as fresh fruit and veg, bread, canned goods, flour and pasta quickly disappeared from shelves. Shops introduced limits on the number of items people could buy along with priorty shopping hours for the elderly and - a new phrase - key workers. Local shops - e.g. Costcutter, Frasers Budgens, Mace and OneStop - became a lifeline for many and their staff were hailed as heroes by grateful customers. We all became experts at hand-washing and distillers turned their production lines over to making hand sanitiser.
To protect our staff in early March we closed our offices to walk-in visitors and many shops and cafes closed voluntarily.
The UK went into lockdown on 23 March 2020
The country locked down and daily briefings from Downing Street followed.
Suddenly we were faced with a new normal, different for each one of us. Some received letters instructing them to stay at home (another new phrase: shielding) for 12 weeks. Others could go out only for essential shopping, medical purposes, to go to work if they couldn't work from home, or once a day for daily exercise. Non essential car journeys were outlawed. Families and friends could no longer meet. We waved to neighbours from afar when we clapped for the NHS and key workers on Thursdays. Families found creative ways to pass the time and keep in touch. Rainbows appeared, and there were small acts of kindness in surprising places.
The following photographs were taken by staff during their daily walks, while working in our open spaces or out shopping and picking up prescriptions. Click or tap any image to open it (and if viewing on a computer use Ctrl+ or Ctrl- to make them even bigger).
HELP WAS AT HAND
More than 300 volunteers stepped up to help others, and support groups kept going where they could too
SMALL ACTS OF KINDNESS
Supermarkets and other essential retailers gave customers flowers (One Stop pictured)
Grove Farm opened its private copse (near Mildenhall) to the public just in time for bluebell season
People left books and toys outside houses for neighbours and passers-by to help themselves
RAINBOWS AND THANK YOU
People showed their thanks for the NHS, care workers and key workers with rainbows
During this worrying and incredibly sad time nature blessed us with a beautiful spring that many people were unable to experience first hand
Emboldened by the sudden quiet, birds and animals crept closer into urban areas
The sky was clear of vapour trails and oh-so-blue and our streets were clear of traffic
LIFE UNDER LOCKDOWN
Everything but shops, some banks or pharmacies deemed 'essential' closed down and while we all stayed at home kitchen tables became classrooms and offices
Our Grounds Team kept going, looking after our open spaces which had become very precious to people for their daily walks
Nathan kept the empty streets clean
We got used to queueing
Mother's Day, Easter, a supermoon and the 75th anniversary of VE Day were some of the milestones we passed in lockdown
People found creative ways to mark VE Day and sent us photos so we could share the day while staying safely apart; the Town Crier gave his Cry for Peace via YouTube
The Town Council elected its new Town Mayor by videoconference (another word joined our everyday vocabulary: Zoom)
Events were postponed, postponed again, cancelled or moved online
As we moved into June lockdown restrictions began to ease, little by little. We then faced a new normal - but that's another story