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School children set to join minute's silence for coronavirus victims 12 months after the first lockdown

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Milford Primary School pupils Frances and Amelie Waters in front of the balloon sculpture
Milford Primary School pupils Frances and Amelie Waters in front of the balloon sculpture

LOCAL school children will join the thousands across the New Forest and Christchurch at midday today (Tuesday) holding a minute’s silence for the victims of the pandemic.

Organised by end-of-life charity Marie Curie and supported by more than 250 organisations around the UK, the National Day of Reflection is being held 12 months after the first nationwide lockdown was enforced. Since then, the UK's death toll from the virus has risen from 364 to more than 126,000.

A huge balloon sculpture greeted children arriving at Milford Primary School, created by Milford parent Susan Wills and displayed at the front gate.

Head teacher Kate Crawford said the school would be holding various events of reflection throughout the day, including a special assembly.

“We will be remembering with the children today and focusing on gratitude for what we have, our thanks for all those who have helped us over the last year and our hope for a brighter future,” she said.

“Our thoughts will be with our whole community today and especially those who have lost loved ones and faced difficult times during the last 12 months.”

Hampshire County Council’s adult care services and the Hampshire Care Association, which represents the county’s independent care sector, are also joining the commemoration.

Cllr Liz Fairhurst, HCC’s adult social care and health chief, said ahead of the event: “The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on all of us, but particularly on the health and care sector.

“Families have been separated from their loved ones and care has been delivered in the most difficult of circumstances.

“On 23rd March, I will be joining colleagues and friends from our care services, along with many independent care homes across the county, in pausing to reflect on everything that has happened over the past year, to remember those we have loved and lost, celebrate their lives, and to thank everyone who has worked so hard to get us through this incredibly difficult period.”

She added: “While we remain, for the most part, separated from vulnerable relatives, the Day of Reflection also provides an opportunity for us to feel hopeful about the future. Anyone wishing to join us in taking a moment to reflect on this day is most welcome.”

Samir Patel, chair of the Hampshire Care Association, said it was incredibly important for those in social care to pause and reflect on the incredible challenges they have faced over the last 12 months.

“Our staff, residents and their friends and families have been through unprecedented times which will continue to affect them for years to come, and we know how important it is to give ourselves time and space for recovery.

“We at Hampshire Care Association will be joining all of our members and colleagues across adult social care in a minute's silence to commemorate those no longer with us and thank all those who have shown such dedication and commitment to caring for the most vulnerable in our society. Please do join us if you can.”

Following the minute’s silence at midday, HCC’s residential and nursing homes, along with many of the county’s independent care homes will be marking the day with a tea for residents, and a range of activities.

Bells at many local churches will toll after the minute’s silence.

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