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The good, the bad and the unexpected: A review of the year 2020




We are living in the strangest of times - with the world having changed completely in the space of just a year.

Throughout 2020, the news took many twists and turns; shining lights in dark times came to the fore at the same time as the world battled a scary virus and the struggles that came with it.

At the start of the year, the world grieved as news filtered through about how many people, homes and animals had been lost in the Australian bush fires which spread through the country.

Bush fires devastated Australia at the beginning of 2020.
Bush fires devastated Australia at the beginning of 2020.

Thirty-four people lost their lives in the blazes, with hundreds more thought to have died due to smoke inhalation in the weeks and months to follow.

A third of the koala population was lost, around 6,000 homes were destroyed and 46 million acres of land was decimated.

But for every horror reported each day, there was a story of someone trying to help.

Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club raised money for the Australian fires after a fund-raiser was started by first team captain Tom Milosevic who is Australian.Picture by Mark Westley
Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club raised money for the Australian fires after a fund-raiser was started by first team captain Tom Milosevic who is Australian.Picture by Mark Westley

Money was raised for organisations such as Animal Welfare, Australian Red Cross and St John Ambulance Australia.

Bury St Edmunds Rugby Union Football Club even set up a fund-raiser after their Australian captain Tom Milosevic decided to do a sponsored head shave to help those suffering back home.

Tom shaved his head on January 26 and raised a total of more than 7,000 Australian dollars - around £4,000 - for the Australian Red Cross.

Little did we all know that another terrifying reality was just around the corner.

Boris Johnson held press conferences throughout coronavirus lockdown.Picture by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street.
Boris Johnson held press conferences throughout coronavirus lockdown.Picture by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street.

February saw the world start to shut down country by country as something called the coronavirus started to spread from its original epicentre in China.

On March 11, the World Health Organisation declared the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Just one week later, Boris Johnson, the prime minister, ordered Brits to stay at home in order to slow the spread of the virus.

Some of the measures put into place in Diss on Mere Street and the Market Place after the Covid-19 lockdown restriction were eased to open non essential shops in the town. ..Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography
Some of the measures put into place in Diss on Mere Street and the Market Place after the Covid-19 lockdown restriction were eased to open non essential shops in the town. ..Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography

All of a sudden, 'we're closed' signs appeared in every shop window, streets were empty of both people and cars, and supermarket aisles were emptied of tins, pasta and toilet roll.

Anyone aged over 70 or who had underlying health conditions were told to 'shield' from others, including their families and friends.

Joe Wicks
Joe Wicks

Everyone else was to work or learn from home and only to leave their house once a day for exercise.

For a split second, it was as if the world stood still.

But out of the darkest of times, community heroes began to appear to make the pandemic a little more bearable.

Celebrity fitness coach Joe Wicks launched the YouTube series PE with Joe,which saw him do a live workout every morning for almost four months to help children and families stay fit while at home.

Captain Tom Moore has raised millions for the NHS during the Coronavirus lockdown. Picture: PA
Captain Tom Moore has raised millions for the NHS during the Coronavirus lockdown. Picture: PA

And it worked, with Wicks awarded the Guinness World Record for the most viewed fitness workout on YouTube after his second session saw 950,000 people watch along.

In April, 99-year-old Captain Tom Moore started walking laps of his garden with the aim of raising £1,000 for NHS Charities Together by his 100th birthday.

On the morning of his birthday on April 30, the total amount raised by Captain Tom surpassed a massive £30 million.

In recognition of his efforts, Captain Tom was made a Knight Bachelor following a nomination by the prime minister. He was the only person awarded at a ceremony at Windsor Castle in May.

Volunteers Sam Line, Emma Fisher,Lauren Bokins,Douglas Hall, Corinna Gawthrop and Karen Davies signed up to help deliver food and medicine to people in Newmarket who are sheilding.Picture by Mark Westley
Volunteers Sam Line, Emma Fisher,  Lauren Bokins,  Douglas Hall, Corinna Gawthrop and Karen Davies signed up to help deliver food and medicine to people in Newmarket who are sheilding.  Picture by Mark Westley

In Suffolk, volunteers came out in their hundreds to help those unable or scared to leave their homes during lockdown.

Newmarket Town Council pledged £10,000 to a volunteer project which saw hundreds sign up to deliver shopping, collect prescriptions and have over-the-phone chats with vulnerable people.

Volunteer networks were also set up in Bury St Edmunds, where a group of rickshaw volunteers collected and delivered items to those at home.

There were also the key workers who carried on working throughout the pandemic to keep the country running.

Doctors and nurses on Covid-19 wards, fire crews, police officers, lorry drivers and supermarket staff were among those thanked by the public for their efforts.

Hazel Stenson and Ernie Broom set up a volunteer group for the Howard estate in Bury St Edmunds. Picture by Mark Westley.
Hazel Stenson and Ernie Broom set up a volunteer group for the Howard estate in Bury St Edmunds. Picture by Mark Westley.

And every Thursday saw the 'Clap for Carers' ring out at 8pm, with residents clapping, ringing bells and banging pots and pans to show their support for the NHS.

Despite the unwavering community spirit which came out of the pandemic, bad news continued to follow.

Hundreds of thousands were made redundant as businesses buckled under the financial pressures and lack of earning in lockdown.

Some of the biggest high street brands and eateries announced job losses and store closures, with Debenhams, Topshop and Café Rouge among those to go into administration.

Roll out of Covid vaccine jabs at Woolpit Health Centre. Picture by Mark Westley
Roll out of Covid vaccine jabs at Woolpit Health Centre. Picture by Mark Westley

The number of deaths in the UK continued to climb and a new strain of the virus saw Christmas cancelled for many across the country.

But good news came with the approval of the Covid-19 vaccine which was first rolled out this month.

Health workers and those living and working in care homes are the first to receive the vaccine, with the elderly and sick to follow in the coming weeks.

Although it felt like it at times, coronavirus wasn't the only big news this year.

Marcus Rashford. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Images
Marcus Rashford. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Images

In October, the Government voted against providing food to children who receive free school meals during holidays.

The news horrified many across the country, who campaigned for the Government to reverse the decision.

Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford, who partnered with charity FareShare to help school children during lockdown, had been awarded an MBE earlier in the year for his campaign to end child poverty.

Following the decision in October, Rashford slammed the MPs responsible for the decision and said they 'lacked humanity'.

Restaurants across the county joined his campaign and offered free meals to children over the October holidays, including the Lowestoft Tandoori, Burgers, Wings and Ribs in Ipswich, and Allison's Eatery in Bury.

The Lowestoft Tandoori offered to help children who are at risk of going hungry
The Lowestoft Tandoori offered to help children who are at risk of going hungry

Thanks to Rashford's campaign, the Government u-turned on the decision and announced it would provide funding of £400million to cover food and household costs for poor families.

It's safe to say 2020 will go down in history as one of the worst years we've lived through.

But last year goes to show that even when the world is facing unimaginable struggles, there are always people waiting in the sidelines to make it a bit easier to bear.

Read more: All the latest news from Suffolk