Christmas message from The Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire

Countess (Elizabeth) Howe

Christmas is a time for family festivities, for the exchange of gifts, and if you are a Christian, a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It is a time for reflection and gratitude when we can look back on the past year and plan for the New Year.  But this will be a very different Christmas.  For so many, life throughout 2020 has been very difficult. Bereavement, illness, loss of livelihood have all changed our way of thinking about the world and put a huge strain on our communities.

This has been a year when we have really examined what matters to us and who matters to us.  We have engaged with our local communities in a way we have never done before, from delivering food parcels to collecting medicines for those who are shielding, or recognising and thanking the key workers upon whom we have all depended.   Personal interaction both at work and at home is crucial to our wellbeing, but with human contact severely limited we are missing it desperately.  And yet adversity has brought out the very best in us, and remarkable acts of kindness can be seen everywhere. The meaning of being a good neighbour has grown and we have supported the most vulnerable with care and attention.  We certainly do not have to look far to discover the depth of humanity during this pandemic.

Looking back over the past year is unlikely to afford us pleasure, but we can and should look forward to a COVID-free time, to rebuild and learn.  We will still need to give support to the most isolated and vulnerable.  Over the Christmas period, as well as recharging your batteries, if you can reach out, albeit probably only over the phone or digitally, and ensure that no one is truly alone, you will have provided a lifeline to someone.

With our communal celebrations curtailed, we have all been left feeling disappointed, but this difficult time will pass.  We will need to draw upon all our reserves to see us through and I have no doubt we will emerge from the pandemic, a stronger and even more compassionate society.

I would like to offer my personal thanks to all those who have made a special effort to help others through this time.  The Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Councils have worked unbelievably hard to ensure that we have remained as safe as possible and they have given reassurance and support to the most vulnerable,  the NHS has provided constant medical treatment; our teachers, emergency service workers, carers and the military, to mention just a few, have all stepped up, and people from all walks of life have filled the gaps with their generosity.

A heartfelt thank-you to you all.

May I wish you all a Happy Christmas and a healthy New Year.