“I HAVE not seen my grandchildren since October.”

The year since coronavirus changed our lives in March 2020 has been like nothing anyone alive has ever experienced in Romsey and Test Valley.

On Tuesday, people across Britain observed a minute’s silence on the anniversary of the UK’s first stay at home order being announced.

We have all been affected by lockdown and loss, including county and borough councillor, Mark Cooper.

Reflecting on 12 months of the town and the nation fighting Covid-19, he said the last year has been very difficult for separated families like his. It has been months since he has seen his beloved grandchildren. But he urged the Government not to rush easing lockdown restrictions.

He said: “It has been a very hard year for everyone including my family. I am sure the rest of Romsey has had the same problems.

“We don’t want to rush out of lockdown too quickly, because we don’t want to encourage new variants, so gradually easing out of lockdown over the next few weeks would be welcomed.”

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Mayor of Romsey, Janet Burnage, said the past 12 months have been “extremely challenging” for everyone and paid tribute to those who have passed away during the pandemic.

She said: “My heart also goes out to those who have lost loved ones to Covid and those who are still suffering from long Covid.

"I have been amazed at how we have managed to adapt to the restrictions placed on us to try and prevent the spread of Covid. What has been most difficult is not seeing close family and friends.

"Zoom is just not the same as seeing someone in person and giving them a hug.”

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Over the year, NHS staff have been fighting to save lives and businesses have been hit hard by three lockdowns.

However, there was hope at last of a route back to normality in December when a 90-year-old woman from Coventry became the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer vaccine outside trial conditions.

Since then, thousands of Romsey residents have rolled up their sleeves in a bid to help get the country back to normal.

Deputy leader for Test Valley Borough Council, Nick Adams-King, admitted it has been a rollercoaster of a year.

He said: “It feels like it has been 10 years and this time last year none of us knew what was going to happen and we thought it would pass quite quickly. It impacted our family immediately, because James, my partner, went to work with Covid patients and that was hard because we had to change our lifestyle completely in response.”

But as is the case for everyone, the vaccines offer hope the end is in sight. He added: “There was quite a strong feeling of hope when I was listening to the radio on the first morning the NHS gave the vaccine and I cried.”