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Comments on the pandemic in this week's mail were balanced with some lighter reflections on Christmas.

REFUSAL TO ACCEPT VACCINES HAS LED TO RESTRICTIONS

An astonishingly incoherent case against vaccine passports appeared on your letters pages last week.

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

The writer appeared to suggest that because vaccines alone are not enough to prevent transmission and that breakthrough infections are possible even in the vaccinated population, the government should not attempt to restrict the involvement of unvaccinated people in large scale public events.

Admittedly there are difficulties in enforcing the scheme, and if more people were vaccinated it would not be necessary at all. But in fact, showing proof of a clear, recent lateral flow test is enough to secure entry – you don’t have to have been vaccinated.

On the facing page, a banner headline showed that 20 per cent of people in Bury St Edmunds have not yet been jabbed. Campaigners concerned about defending people’s right to refuse medical treatment are not proposing that the seriously ill unvaccinated patients taking up beds in hospital wards and ICUs should be deemed to have refused treatment, nor that the doctors and nurses making heroic efforts to save them from their own folly should turn their backs.

Your letter writer even has the temerity to suggest that because large numbers of people have acted responsibly and accepted the vaccine, those who don’t bother will be protected by the widespread immunity of others. Many have discovered, to their horror, that this is not the case and that they can still get very ill and die.

The swift development of effective vaccines has been a modern scientific miracle; it is the refusal to accept them that has led to restrictions on our freedoms.

Gayle Wade, via email

FESTIVE LIGHTS HAVE BRIGHTENED OUR LIVES

Every evening myself and my husband walk our dog around the streets in Bury St Edmunds. If you walk from the Tollgate pub toward the railway station, nearly every house on the right hand side of the road has a beautifully decorated and lit Christmas tree in their bay window.

Then, returning home via Risbygate Street, with the college on your right, the houses there have all decorated the trees and bushes in their gardens with lights. This does not take away from all the other houses that have decorations and lights up, but to have whole streets decorated like this is wonderful.

In a time when there is so much bad news, loneliness and sadness around, these homes and gardens shine beautiful bright lights out into the dark winter nights.

How fantastic that the people who live there have found the time to brighten up everyone’s lives.

Thank you for your hard efforts and Merry Christmas to you all.

Gloria Meen, Bury St Edmunds

MP JO CHURCHILL HAS QUESTIONS TO ANSWER

Copy of an open letter to Jo Churchill MP:

Please answer the following question so that your constituents can understand the action you took on our behalf:

Why did you vote for the government’s ‘Plan B’?

Your answer will include global peer-reviewed scientific data on the efficacy of lockdowns. You will confidently rebut claims that this measure has significantly harmed our economy, multiplied the suicide rate, caused the deaths of thousands of people unable to get specialist treatment, and dealt a blow to children’s education and mental health from which many will not fully recover.

Your reply will also include global peer-reviewed scientific data on the efficacy of face masks for the general population and most importantly, refute the analogy that throwing marbles at scaffolding is comparable to a mask’s ability to block the Covid-19 virus.

You will demonstrate that your vote for the government’s ‘Plan B’ was a decision you took with the best interests of your constituents to the fore and detail your interpretation of ‘best interests’.

I invite you to demonstrate also how the oft used phrase ‘we’re all in this together’ includes those shielded from financial hardship, have access to private medical care and live lives somewhat removed from the experience of most of your constituents. Notwithstanding your portfolio of rental properties in Lincolnshire, your salary as an MP being three times the national average (at a shade under £82,000) and claimed expenses of over £46,000 for the financial year 2020-2021, tell us why you felt that further restrictions on the daily lives of your constituents and their ability to function in society would be to their advantage.

You will continue with an explanation of how Bury hospital and the local care home infrastructure will not suffer from a policy of mandatory vaccines for staff in these sectors and how this policy will not prove self-destructive. Similarly, you will explain the advantage to our local economy of your government allowing industry and commerce to discriminate and potentially dismiss those constituents who decline an employer’s demand to be coerced into an unwanted medical procedure.

Lastly, you will explain using global peer-reviewed scientific evidence, that the Covid-19 episode over the last two years has been responsible for an uptick in excess mortality that has broken all previous records, thereby justifying your government’s unprecedented and deeply consequential response.

You wrote to me at the beginning of this year declaring that you were not in favour of vaccine passports. Clearly you have changed your mind and here is an opportunity to publicly explain how this shift in thinking came about and convince me at least (cynical old thing that I am) that political expediency had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Nigel Wright , Bury St Edmunds

HAPPY MEMORIES OF FESTIVE TRADITIONS

Last week’s edition of the Free Press (December 17) brought back some memories.

Two specific articles were instrumental in this.

The return of the Thetford Santa Run brought back memories of my first Santa Run in 2016. Two years previously I had assisted with the street collections at a Santa Run in Ipswich, and thought it looked a fun event. In December 2016 we were spending a few days away travelling, starting in Huddersfield for our second visit to the Huddersfield Choral Society Christmas concert, before eventually finishing in Stratford upon Avon. In between, on the Saturday night, we stayed at The George, in Stamford, as I had decided to try to complete a Santa Run at Burleigh House.

Collecting my Santa suit on the Saturday afternoon, I was as fully prepared as I could be for the exertions of the Sunday.

Travelling the short distance from the hotel, I donned my suit and with all other Santas took part in a pre-run limbering up exercise. At the start there was a ‘congestion’ of Santas, but this soon thinned out and we set out on three circuits of the course. By running around with another Santa (a trick learnt from my days on school cross country runs), I managed to complete the run, and I still have the Santa medal to prove it.

And the pictures of the return of the Christmas Tree Festival at Woolpit reminded me of the first Christmas Tree Festival I ever visited in Stamford. The combination of lights and Christmas trees ‘dressed’ by different organisations was as now impressive and awesome and, like Santa Runs, raise much money for charity. The Woolpit event is one which I must attend another year and as such am delighted that it is back.

Finally, growing up ‘Over Stoke’ in Ipswich, my family had a tradition on Christmas morning of serving rum in tea. I suspect that this goes back to the days of ‘Gunpowder Tea’, started in the 1890s, when it was given to troops to give them courage before battle. It is, I believe, still kept as a Christmas tradition in the armed forces when it is served up to soldiers before reveille on Christmas Day by officers and NCOs. My family, as far as I am aware, has no history of military service, so I have always wondered where our own Christmas tradition came from? Does any other reader have a similar tradition or any ideas?

As such, as I write this four days before Christmas Day, I am looking forward to my tea on Christmas morning as I have steadfastly maintained this family tradition.

Graham Day, Stowmarket

PILLAR BOX TOP DELIVERS DELIGHT

I would like to congratulate the creator of the wonderful Christmas top currently on view on the pillar box on Angel Hill. It is giving passers-by enormous pleasure, as have the previous crocheted tops that have been there.

More please.

Margaret Steavenson, Bury St Edmunds

WE’RE THERE FOR YOU AT CHRISTMAS

We had all been hoping Christmas would be a little more normal this year. While the emergence of the new variant has left many of us feeling uncertain about what lies ahead, for people living with cancer in Suffolk, a normal Christmas may already have felt out of reach.

The prospect of being isolated from friends and family, once again, is a real one for people who are undergoing treatment and have been advised to shield.

Equally, many will also be worried about how they’ll enjoy the holiday season when the side effects of treatment are making them feel unwell, or they feel like a burden to their family. These are all normal feelings and worries that can sometimes feel heightened at Christmas. We want people living with cancer across Suffolk to know that we are still here for them over the festive period. It might be Christmas, but that won’t stop us doing whatever it takes to ease people’s concerns about cancer.

Macmillan’s national support line is open 365 days a year from 8am to 8pm. Anyone affected by cancer can call free on 0808 808 00 00. The website, www.macmillan.org.uk, has lots of information and an option for you to chat to an expert online.

Macmillan is here to do whatever it takes to support you from the moment you are diagnosed – that includes at Christmas time. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you need information, support or just someone to talk to.

Emma Tingley, Macmillan Cancer Support

-- Email your letters to letters@buryfreepress.co.uk