Today we come together to reflect on our collective loss, support all those who have been bereaved, and hope for a brighter future.
Hundreds of thousands of people have died across the world since the first UK lockdown came into force on 23rd March 2020 and heartbreakingly the death toll continues to rise. We must remember that behind each statistic is a brother, sister, parent, grandparent, child, friend, neighbour, colleague, all of whom are so dearly missed. We take time today to pause and think of them, and send our deepest love and sympathy to all of their relatives and friends who are grieving for them. My thoughts are with all those who have sadly lost loved ones during the past year.
There have been many other types of loss too. The loss of our freedoms, to be close and share in celebrations with one another. Many birthdays, engagements, births, religious festivals and more, all normally joyous occasions, forced to be marked in different ways be it distanced, or through a Facetime or Zoom call. We have made so many collective sacrifices over the past year which at times has felt overwhelming, challenging and cruel, especially during times of sadness and loss, when an embrace from a loved one may have helped stem a small fraction of the pain. How agonising it has been for so many, not being able to mourn properly with restrictions on funerals and human contact, and how long it feels since we had true freedom; to welcome a loved one into our homes, to see the smile of a stranger indoors unrestricted by a mask, to hold the hands of a relative living in a care home, and so much more. Today I reflect upon all that we have lost and upon all of the difficulties we have faced and overcome throughout the past year.
Of course we still face challenging times ahead and it will be some time before our lives start to move closer towards a more familiar sense of normal, but how wonderful that day will be. Our future is bright, but to get there we must continue to rise above the challenges we face, be purpose driven in our approach and centred on our communities, with whom we must pull together to ensure our collective safety and future. We must continue to be resolute, patient and kind. Our continued united efforts are critical to ensuring a successful journey both out of lockdown, and in our ultimate road to recovery. The day will come when we will be reunited with those who currently feel so physically far from us. There will be celebration, joy and togetherness but to get there we must continue to be vigilant, to follow the rules and remember that our collective efforts are of such utter importance.
Today let us pause in silence to remember all those we have lost, reflect on the immense challenges we have faced during the past year both personally and professionally, support all those who have seen hardship and loss, and look ahead to a bright future, made possible through our continued patience and determination.