One year on: Heartache and worry but light at end of tunnel

It's a year to the day since the first coronavirus lockdown, and Salopians could never have imagined the challenges and sadness that would be coming our way.

Friends Melissa Beddow and William Ashlin from Shrewsbury
Friends Melissa Beddow and William Ashlin from Shrewsbury

The heartbreaking loss of loved ones, jobs disappearing and businesses crumbling, and the freedom to do many of the things we love taken away to try and slow the spread of a virus that has run riot all over the world.

Finally now, there is light at the end of the tunnel as we prepare to leave the third, and hopefully last lockdown. Reflecting on the past 12 months, Shropshire folk shared how the pandemic has impacted them, and what they're looking forward to doing when life returns to some kind of normality.

Friends William Ashlin and Melissa Beddow have both been working throughout the pandemic, William in a care home and Melissa in a petrol station.

William told of the challenges, and how he tries to de-stress from the rigours of long shifts in PPE and the constant sad news.

"All of us in the care home have been working hard," he said. "The masks are really horrible and irritating when you have to wear them all day. I'm looking forward to the day when we don't have to wear them.

"All my family are working on the front line. When I'm away from work I try to speak to my mum and dad to take my mind off it, and I go for a walk down to the Radbrook pond to relax and relieve stress."

Melissa has had similar work-related woes, having had her hours slashed and found herself dealing with angry customers who don't want to obey Covid-19 rules.

"I was on furlough at first for three months. The hours have been reduced now and I can't get as many as I'd like to.

Protect

"We're just trying to protect everyone and do our job. Most people are okay with it, but sometimes they're not."

But that is nothing compared to dealing with the personal heartache of losing her dad and nan in the last year. Both died of illnesses not related to Covid, but restrictions on funerals made saying goodbye even harder than she could have imagined.

"We were only allowed 10 people inside the crematorium for my dad's [funeral]. It was really hard, but they had speakers so people outside could listen, and there were bikers outside because he was a biker. His name was Tony and he was known by quite a lot of people in Shrewsbury."

She added: "I talk to my mum about it but try and keep things in the back of my mind. If that doesn't work I just listen to music."

William and Melissa believe the pandemic has strengthened their friendship, and now they are looking forward to returning to doing their favourite things.

William said he's most looking forward to going back to the pub and the gym, while Melissa is keen to get her dancing shoes back on.

"It's probably brought us closer than we were before," said William.

Richard Jones from Newport

Retired Richard Jones, from Newport, said the toughest part has been missing his daughter and grandchildren.

"My daughter lives in London, and we normally go down to see her once a month," he said. "I haven't been able to see my grandchildren since before Christmas. It's a bit selfish, but it is difficult.

"I do miss them but I'm quite optimistic with how things are going."

Sue Davies

Retired office manager Sue Davies, from Shifnal, similarly shared the gloom of missing loved ones, especially her son who works in Norway.

"It has been a shame to have lost a year in this way," she said. "I've been spending most of my time walking. I would have liked to have been swimming, meeting for coffee and those sorts of things.

"I've started knitting and crocheting. I've also traced my ancestry back which was interesting. I think there's lots of things people have taken up to pass the time that they wouldn't have otherwise - I've gone right back to 1498.

"It's been sad to not see family thankfully my daughter lives next door, she hasn't been round but we can still see each other over the fence. I haven't been able to see my son of course. That's been hard."

Vicki Tranter

Vicki Tranter, from Telford, has missed playing netball and has struggled with loneliness and routine.

"When you're on your own it gets lonely," she said.

"I've been up and down and been through my bad patches throughout the pandemic but it looks like we're at the end of it all now."

Lee Gill

Shifnal-based builder and Wolves fan Lee Gill is most looking forward to returning to Molineux when crowds are allowed back in.

"It's killed me not to go, my passion is my family, my wife and football," he said.

"Not being able to do stuff with my two girls, even just little meals out, it has been hard. It's strange to think we haven't even been able to nip out for a beer either."

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