Fringe Box



Opinion: Gather Strength From the Memories of This Past Year

Published on: 6 Mar, 2021
Updated on: 7 Mar, 2021

Guildford High Street, almost deserted, at 11.25 on a Wednesday morning during the first lockdown in April 2020

By Howard Smith

Vice-chair, Guildford Labour

Lockdown for all parents in Guildford has been really tough. Balancing work with childcare and home-schooling can double up what you have to do each day with no extra time or pay. You can end up feeling unable to perform either role well.

While my wife adapted to working from home with an office set up in the spare room, my work as an independent live music promoter dried up almost immediately. Concerts were postponed, rescheduled, rescheduled again and then cancelled. The last one was at The Keep in November 2019 and that seems a very long time ago now.

In the first few weeks, it all seemed like a bit of fun. We were thinking, “Hey, that’s nice, we got the kids”. By April, Stanley had learned how to ride his pedal bike and Audrey moved up to a balance bike. Progress. We assumed online lessons would last only a short time. Then new dates were announced and Crikey, now we’re going to have to take this schoolwork lark seriously.

Much of the school day revolves around the set work from Pewley School mixed with our regular walks and Lego! We are lucky to have so much beautiful countryside so close, even though our home is in the town centre. Stoke Park, the Downs, Whitmoor Common and Burpham Nature reserve have become our favourites. Christmas Bakery is handy if you’re over that way. And the dog is always up for a walk.

The children’s schools, Audrey at Burpham Preschool and Stanley who actually began in Reception at Pewley in September, have been amazing. The Covid-safe precautions they take at preschool have gone way beyond what you could possibly hope for.

Howard Smith with his children Stanley and Audrey

And at Pewley, they have provided so much learning activity for Stanley. Along with loads of prepared material online and Zoom calls for the class, we’ve had one-to-one reading lessons, the lot. The teaching staff must be exhausted; they have done so much for the children.

So, as we look forward to restrictions being lifted with the schools returning on Monday, March 8, much of the past year has become a blur in my memory.

Like everyone else, I’m sure we’re looking optimistically now at vaccine rollouts continuing and being able to see our friends and family again. We stay positive and hope the good things we have experienced will serve us well in the future.

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