One year of Covid in Wakefield: Celebrating the incredible people who have kept the district moving through the pandemic
As Wakefield marks the anniversary of the first case of Covid-19, these are the faces of the health workers and community heroes who have kept the district going through the last 12 months.
Today (Thursday, March 11, 2021) marks exactly one year since the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed in the Wakefield district.
Since then, more than 23,400 people have tested positive for the virus and, tragically, at least least 737 people in the district have died after contracting coronavirus.
Reading these figures has become a part of our daily routine, and it is sometimes difficult to remember that each number represents an inconceivable loss - a friend, parent, neighbour or colleague with an incredible story to tell, whose life has been cut short.
It has been a year of lockdown, loss and unimaginable personal struggles for so many people.
But it has also been a year of breathtaking resilience.
Over the last 12 months, we’ve brought you stories of hundreds of incredible people: doctors and nurses putting their own health on the line to help others; local businesses going above and beyond to care for vulnerable residents, and thousands of people volunteering their time to support those in need.
Today, we’re taking a look back at some of the incredible people who have kept Wakefield and the Five Towns moving over the last 12 months.
On March 23, 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson took to national TV to deliver a serious message: cases of coronavirus were rising at a dangerous rate, and the UK would be entering into a national lockdown.
The weeks that followed involved massive changes for millions of people.
But for nobody was the change more stark than our health and care workers. As others went out of their way to stay home and limit contact with others, thousands of health and social care workers were expected to continue their work, with many even stepping out of retirement to offer their assistance.
An outpouring of appreciation followed. In Wakefield and the Five Towns, hundreds of people began singing the praises of the doctors, nurses and care workers in their lives.
In April, we asked you to nominate the incredible workers in your life as part of the Health Heroes campaign.
The nominations came in their hundreds.
From doctors and nurses to porters and cleaners, and everyone in between, these are the faces of the incredible health workers who have looked out for us all over the last year.
But it was not just health workers who were praised. Though many people have been expected to work from home during lockdown, there were plenty of people outside of the health sector who continued their essential work through lockdown.
In July, the Express launched the Big Thank You, a campaign to celebrate the incredible work of heroes in every walk of life.
From hospice staff to police, electricians to bus drivers, this campaign was a chance to celebrate the absolute best that Wakefield had to offer.
You can get a glimpse at just a few of the faces of the district’s key workers here.
Celebrating every story
Of course, throughout the pandemic there have been hundreds of individuals, families and groups who also deserve praise for their selfless acts.
Early on, we celebrated shopkeeper Amit Pugal who, along with his family, was credited with “feeding his community” through lockdown.
In Castleford, one coffee shop worker showed their gratitude to the district’s police with a sweet note on a cup of coffee.
Some people used the lockdown as a chance to get creative, including seamstress Aileen Talbot, who raised more than £1,000 for Wakefield Hospice by selling facemasks.
While others channelled their energy into volunteering to help others, launching new groups to support those shielding or self-isolating.
And artist Rachel List drew attention from around the world with her stunning portraits dedicated to NHS staff.
Do you have a story to tell? We want to help cheer on anyone whose efforts have stood out during the pandemic, whatever industry they might be in. Get in touch on Facebook, or email [email protected] to let us know who you want to celebrate and why.