A message to Yorkshire’s heroes from the Lord Lieutenant

THE unexpected arrival of Covid-19 has brought the world as we knew it to a juddering halt. It has given us all cause to stop and reflect. The impact that this invisible and indiscriminate enemy has had already and will have in the future both on society and our private lives is unquantifiable.

Yet, in this challenging situation, the innovation, collaboration, courage and selflessness, together with innumerable examples of people and organisations going well beyond the line of duty to keep things moving and to get the job done is one of the real positives coming out of this crisis.

The actions of individuals, whether acting independently or collectively, have resulted in some truly inspiring and jaw-dropping examples of personal sacrifice and commitment. What makes it even more extraordinary is that many of those are being carried out by members of the team who are normally less visible. Well you are no longer, you are all heroes, every one of you! The crisis has really emphasised the importance of teamwork.  

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Much has been said, rightly, in praise of the NHS, SY Police, SY Fire and Rescue, the military, local authority employees and those looking after the elderly and vulnerable in the community, including care homes and hospices. I also want to thank the army of unpaid carers and all those people who have stoically continued to carry out with the utmost dedication all those essential tasks, which keep our community going; shops and supermarket staff, truck and van drivers, those who work in utilities, Royal Mail staff, bus and train drivers, refuse collectors, religious leaders, undertakers, teachers and so many more, including our farmers, many of whom are still reeling from the impact of the recent floods.

To you all, I say a big thank you and I salute you.

For the elderly and vulnerable this crisis is particularly hard, but we welcome the care being lavished upon us, from all sides. We are indeed fortunate; for many of us, we remain in a “bubble” not oblivious, but incapable of helping in the fight and giving support to those who are in a more vulnerable situation.

For our young people whether at school or university, this significant disruption is also really tough. I know that everyone is doing all they can to ensure that the impact upon your education and future career prospects is minimised as much as possible.

I also want to thank everyone living in South Yorkshire for the exemplary way in which you have abided by the instruction to stay at home. This is a huge sacrifice yet thankfully everyone, or nearly everyone “gets it”. It seems clear that it is doing a huge amount to keep the NHS safe.

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The attitude being displayed across the county is just so uplifting. Everywhere people are showing their humanity and love for their fellow human beings. Let us hope that the care people are showing for their neighbour continues after we return to a more normal existence. If it does, then we will come out of this disaster stronger, but also a more caring and loving society — something of which we can all be proud.

Finally, if anyone is wondering how they might contribute to the organisations fighting the virus, any charity would welcome your support. Alternatively, you could visit the South Yorkshire Community Foundation website and find details of the Covid-19 Fund which they are managing. This is an “umbrella fund”, set up specifically to help those supporting the vulnerable and less fortunate across the county.

Stay safe.

Andrew J Coombe,

HM Lord-Lieutenant of South Yorkshire