There has not been a lot of building work at the front of the new Ock Street retirement flats during the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
What has changed during that time is people’s perceptions of what they value. Our town centre garden may be small but it has been a blessing during the sunny days when we were staying at home. The parks and green spaces around Abingdon town centre were another blessing.
The Fairacres Phase 2 development has continued during the lockdown and most of the metal structure is now in place.
Lidl are coming but I have not heard what businesses will follow.
The long term impact of the pandemic on businesses is unknown. In the short term there will be a greater need for social distancing in stores. Online shopping, and click and collect became more important during the lockdown.
PPE has become an everyday term. The advice on wearing face masks and coverings has changed. PPE allows trades people to work in people’s houses, and will be a way to open up smaller businesses. Face coverings will become compulsory for people using public transport in England from Monday 15 June. More and more people are wearing face coverings in Waitrose.
This photograph from Easter 2007 shows members of Abingdon Baptist Church about to give out Easter eggs.
We got news yesterday from Revd David Fleming (on facebook) that Beth Fleming ( in the centre of the picture), died in intensive care with complications following Covid-19.
Many of you will remember that she became the Chairmum of the VWHDC (Vale of White Horse District Council) in 2010-11. Married to David, she had four children, and took a degree as a geochemist. She had run all sorts of breakfast clubs, and scout troops, and toddler and baby clubs over the years – some at school, some at Abingdon Baptist Church where David was the Minister. She put family before self and showed what a mother should be, welcoming many into her extended family. This was good training for getting involved in Abingdon local politics and becoming the chairmum of the district council. Her genuine concern for other people helped her win her council seat.
She was a great support to David as a Church Minister. She met him as a teenage member of Cemetery Road Baptist Church and saw the potential in him to be a minister long before he knew himself. As chairmum, David became her escort in turn.
After leaving Abingdon David and Beth have been at Limbury Baptist Church in Luton for several years.
1st to 7th June is Volunteers Week. As well as applauding the NHS and Key workers, we can applaud the volunteers who have made such a difference during the current pandemic. They have included people put on furlough who wanted to help others.
Volunteers working for Abingdon Coronavirus Community Response have answered 2,700 requests for help over the past 11 weeks – and as the lockdown eases they say “we’re still here to help“.
More than 400 people signed up for the scheme providing neighbour-to-neighbour help, running errands amounting to the equivalent of some 336 days of volunteering.
Sarah Anthony, who set up the group, said: “My mind is blown. I can’t believe what’s been achieved together.”
Teacher Sophie is one of the volunteers working for the response team. She says….
“I mostly get shopping for a couple on the street. I do a big shop once a week which I used to do by going into the shop. Now we’ve got click and collect sorted so that’s really straight-forward and I’ll also top on a Sunday with whatever they need and get a paper. I’ll do prescriptions when necessary and there’s been a few other errands for other people as well. It’s been really good being part of the network of volunteers because it feels very well organised. We get information passed down to us and if I can’t manage some things so… once I couldn’t manage a request and I passed that on to another willing volunteer, so it very much feels like nobody is on their own with this. It’s been really rewarding getting to know my couple and other neighbours on the street. They are really lovely and they are extremely grateful which they don’t really need to be. My parents are in Devon and I can’t help them or be of use to them at the moment which is quite difficult as I imagine it has been for lots of people across the country so I feel glad to be of use. They’ve given me a few plants and some gardening advice as well. I think it’s a relationship that will probably last beyond the coronavirus.
Chris, who she helps, said….
“I live with my partner in Abingdon. We are both in our late 60s. Last year he had a heart attack. He also has asthma. Although not shielding we felt very vulnerable going out and decided we would self-isolate. Not having any family nearby, we turned to the ACR team for help after receiving one of their postcards through the door. We were put in touch with Sophie who turned out to live just a few doors away from us and who we had never met. Sophie for the past 11 weeks has unconditionally helped us with weekly shopping and picking up prescriptions. On Sunday mornings, she also gets ours and our elderly next door neighbours Sunday papers along with the essential weekend top up shopping as needed. All this with a constant smile and willingness to help in any way that we can. We’ve been so grateful. We can’t thank Sophie enough for keeping us safe. All my adult life I have volunteered in various fields and have been a social worker for 32 years so it’s very difficult for me to feel the need to ask for help.”