We took a ski trip in February and as we drove to the mountains we
talked about the terrible bushfires ravaging New South Wales, Brexit, A
level revision plans and university choices.
Seven days later an outbreak of COVID-19 on a cruise ship was making
the headlines. The WHO was calling for the strongest possible national
measures to be implemented in order to manage the spread of the
virus. Boris Johnson offered reassurance that the UK Government’s
special advisors were proposing a policy of herd immunity. News
broke as we reached St Malo, that the virus was evident in the first of
Europe’s ski resorts.
At Hospice it was time to invoke the business continuity plan. All
non-essential activity stopped. We had a window in which to retrain
and redeploy staff, as the potential consequences of the virus
loomed. Patient care and staff safety became our vision lenses for
We learned to make decisions with little information. We learned that
sometimes the absence of a decision is more harmful than a wrong
decision. The pressure was relentless, but the commitment of staff and
supporters alike humbling, filling me with pride and gratitude.
Zoom calls for school and work became our new norm. I joined the
Government’s Silver Command Group, difficult decisions were made,
the population was subject to categorisation should insufficient
resources be available to offer healthcare to all COVID-19 patients
The A level student who was no more, slept in, stayed in and started
to question how we would come out of this global pandemic. He took
on extra shifts in the supermarket serving essential workers; stacking
shelves stripped of toilet rolls, pasta and flour; and asking every
customer at his till how life in the pandemic was for them.
He catalogued knowledge on the social impact of COVID-19, with
specifics on people’s health, wellbeing and finances. He noted those
that complained about the social distancing, the queues to enter
the shop, the wearing of masks and the building of the Nightingale
Hospital. He broke shoppers down into the believers, the worriers, the
conspiracy theorists, the isolated, the lonely, the home-workers and the
families confined into spaces with pressures a boy of his age is perhaps
too young to fully grasp.
You have to know who you are and what matters to you in order to truly
live consciously. The Black Lives Matter movement caught me off guard.
I realised with shame that not being racist was simply not enough. We
all have to be anti-racist that means proactive in rising up against
2020 has been a large global reset button. We have all understood
that it is possible to make decisions, in the face of huge challenges.
There is no excuse now not to live with intent and authenticity. It is time.