Andrew Stanley - quite old & certainly old enough

Are you surprised the pandemic has lasted this long and with such devastating effect ?

I am definitely surprised how long the plague has lasted. By late summer last year it appeared to be beaten and the lifting of many restrictions seemed to give that impression. The number of deaths is way beyond anyone's expectations. I think figures of 20/25,000 were mentioned so to be a hundred thousand beyond that is shocking.

Why do you think it has been so widespread here and globally ?

There has been just a little too much concern about peoples' liberty/freedom and a general lack of enforcement of rules. A majority have followed rules but a significant minority have not and have assisted transmission. Globally it varies and has probably, at least in part, been subject to the quality of the leadership and living conditions of the people. I also believe the density of population has been a big factor and England is a big negative in that respect

How well do you think the crisis has been handled ?

This is difficult because no-one had any experience of handling such a large scale pandemic and the speed with which it took hold. In very general terms the government has done reasonably well. The pressure on senior Ministers will have been enormous trying to take on medical and scientific advice and dealing with a "know all" media. My criticism would be that there was a slow reaction to some events in an attempt to please. This has resulted in more serious restrictions being imposed to "catch up" with the virus. My biggest criticism is in the time it took to place adequate restrictions on overseas travel and even now still allowing people to return from many countries with no formal restrictions. If a Covid variant sneaks in from an unrestricted country then that will be entirely down to the government. It also took far too long to realise that Care Homes were particularly vulnerable.

What lessons do you think we can learn ?

What will happen is that the government will now always be prepared for a pandemic with regards to equipment and facilities to produce vaccines. I'm not sure how long it will last but in the short/medium term the number of hospital beds nationally will be maintained at a high level (bed numbers had been significantly reduced over previous years). Lessons that maybe we should learn but won't include the amount of food we produce ourselves (less than 50% of need) and whether we could cope if the next pandemic stopped imports/exports. We also will not learn that population growth in the UK and worldwide needs to be stopped for so many reasons they cannot (& should not) be stated here

What has been your biggest challenge over the last year ?

The inability to take spontaneous action and visiting my elderly mum every day for a year as her only helper/visitor/carer

What has been your worst and best moment (s) ?

Difficult to say. I think the "Groundhog Day" effect has been wearing. Not knowing what day of the week it is without checking (which reminds me of the Dowager Duchess in Downton Abbey asking "what is a weekend" - I feel the same (but for different reasons)! The best moments have been the lack of aircraft noise and the vast number of additional people out walking (which is ironic as most of the local land is to be turned into housing estates in the near future)

What has helped you keep you going ?

What was the choice? It's been a matter of plugging away and waiting for the vaccine to ride into town and save us all.

Who are your heroes in all this ?

NHS staff and all those working in the frontline at increased risk

Any other comments ?

At the moment we are still in lockdown although this lockdown has seen almost normal levels of traffic and shops such as coffee shops and garden centres treated as essential causing more people to be out. Overall, it has been good to see the camaraderie and pulling together of the public. There have been countless acts of kindness and generosity which confirms what we are capable of in an emergency