National Day of Reflection: Marking a year since lockdown with silent remembrance and hope
Today, the Fylde coast came together on the National Day of Reflection to remember the lives lost to Covid-19, and the many challenges people have faced as we mark a year since lockdown.
Residents, businesses and organisations across the Fylde coast paid their respects to those we have lost to Covid with a minute of silence at 12pm today.
People have also been encouraged to light a candle - or their mobile phones - on their doorsteps for a second minute of reflection at 8pm.
A national Marie Curie campaign will see monuments and key buildings around the country light up yellow in tribute this evening - including the Tower, the Illuminations arches, the Hilton hotel and the Winter Gardens dome.
The Marine Hall in Fleetwood and Lytham Windmill will also light up yellow, and flags were flown at half mast on the resort's Town Hall, the Town Hall in St Annes and Wyre Council's Civic Centre in Poulton.
Coun Lynn Williams, leader of Blackpool Council, said today was a day to reflect on the costs of the pandemic, and the lives lost.
“It has affected us all in some way and my thoughts are with the friends and family of those who have lost loved ones," Coun Williams said.
“It has been an incredibly hard year but the sacrifices our residents have made have undoubtedly saved lives and continue to do so.
“As we reflect on the past year we also look forward with hope and optimism that the worst is over and better times are just around the corner."
In Wyre, leader of the council Coun David Henderson thanked key workers for going above and beyond for their communities.
"This has been an incredibly difficult year and my thoughts are with everyone who has lost someone they love to this terrible virus," Coun Henderson said.
“As we continue to fight through this pandemic, I want to thank all key workers, from NHS staff to refuse collectors, you have kept our country going whilst you yourselves have struggled and I cannot thank you enough.
"I’d like to invite everyone to join us in lighting a candle to remember those we’ve lost and to use the opportunity to reflect on the last year. We are always stronger together and we will get through this."
Teachers and parents were also praised by Wyre Council for the roles they have played in continuing children's education during the pandemic.
"Parents and carer across Lancashire have juggled home-schooling with their daily lives," the council added.
"Teachers have provided remote lessons, ensuring children are still learning during such uncertain times.
"Thank you to parents, carers and teachers for your resilience."
Medics at the Vic marked the anniversary in silence within their departments, as they reflected on an unprecedented - and often overwhelming - year, as Covid impacted their working days like no others.
Vic boss Kevin McGee urged the public to get their Covid jabs, as the "best tribute" we can make to those who have lost someone to the virus.
He said: “The Trust held its own moment of reflection and remembrance last week to mark the anniversary of our first Covid positive patient being admitted to The Vic and, sadly, our first death from the virus.
“We got together to hold our own minute’s silence with colleagues including those from our spiritual team. Today we encourage people to take part in the national moment of remembrance as well in their own teams and whilst observing restrictions to stay safe.
“Our communities in Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre have suffered terribly from Covid-19 this year and it’s important to remember those we have lost and those who have lost loved ones. We continue to offer support to our patients and their families who are unable to visit, as well as to our staff who have and continue to carry a huge emotional burden.
“Please, follow the restrictions and respect the easing of lockdown as we work through each stage carefully. When you are called to have your vaccine it, please take it up. To beat this is the best tribute we can make to those who have lost so much."
Lancashire Police laid a wreath in its memorial garden and also flew its flag at half mast, to remember friends, colleagues and relatives lost to the virus.
"Over the course of the past year we’ve all lost something, be it time, the opportunity to make memories with those we love or even at times our sanity," the force said.
"But it’s so important to remember the kindness, compassion and care that our community has shown in the face of adversity and hardship.
"We knew us Lancashire lot were tough, but we’ve seen amazing resilience in abundance.
"When we return to normality (and we will) we hope this is something we all continue."
Blackpool Transport's bus and tram services also observed today's minute of silence, as drivers continued to work to enable key workers to commute during the pandemic.
The company said: "As we look back on the events of the previous 12 months, we thank our colleagues, our customers and our communities for all of their efforts to keep going."
MPs across the Fylde coast gave messages of hope to their constituents, as they looked back on the past year.
Fleetwood MP Cat Smith said: "Today, is a moment to reflect on what has been a terrible year for our country and the huge sacrifices people on the Fylde coast and across the country have made.
"Our thoughts in particular are with those families who have lost loved ones to this terrible virus and will still be grieving.
"As we reflect on the past year, we owe it to those whose lives have been lost to learn the lessons from the pandemic and to build a stronger more secure future.
"A public inquiry into the pandemic will be key to this."
Paul Maynard, Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP, said: “We reflect on a year of great sadness and great challenge.
"It has been a year where the gaps in our lives have never been more apparent yet our community has never been brought closer together.
"We do see hope in the not too distant future. Vaccination was always the long term answer to Covid.
"Then we can all look to our lives resuming their natural rhythms once more, whilst we will always mourn those we have lost."
Mark Menzies, MP for Fylde, said: “Fylde residents have been absolutely phenomenal throughout this pandemic and we now see a huge fall in the number of cases and deaths.
“It has been difficult in so many ways, and it has been incredible to see the community spirit across the area, as people helped each other emotionally and practically.
“With half of all adults now vaccinated, the end of the restrictions and hopefully the pandemic are in sight.
“That is down to the amazing hard work of our NHS staff, returning NHS staff, volunteers, blue lights services and the Army.
“We may be a year in – but we are so very close to emerging from this difficult time."
Scott Benton, MP for Blackpool South, said: "My thoughts today are with the families who have sadly lost love ones during the pandemic, they have my deepest condolences.
"I would like to pass on my sincere thanks to NHS workers who have worked tirelessly to save lives.
"It has been a challenging year for the whole country but I have been truly impressed by the resilience and community spirit of individuals here in Blackpool and I am pleased to see that Blackpool Tower will be lit in yellow this evening to act as a beacon of remembrance."