Covid-19 Archive

Podcast script - Monday, March 23, 2020

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Good Morning Chelveston, Caldecott and Chelston Rise. It’s Monday the 23rd March. This is Adrian Dale with the daily briefing.

Well today is shaping up to be another lovely spring day like yesterday. And gosh don’t we need it! It was lovely to see so many people in their gardens yesterday, shouting at each other over the garden fence, whilst of course staying the necessary 2 metres apart. Lots of families were also walking round the Village but again staying apart. Unlike London, this Village seems to be listening to the Public Health messages – thank you!

The sharp eared amongst you will notice that I am not speaking from the Church today. I am now in the Village Hall. I explain why a little later.

So let’s look at what happened yesterday in the Village. What an amazing day it was, full of heart warming stuff!

The start of my day was taken up by preparations for the broadcast of the online Church Service, the first ever from this Village. On Saturday we’d rehearsed the technology and worked out how Michelle and the team needed to adapt the Eucharist to suit the new medium. As usual Michelle was really enthusiastic, and was very keen to spread the word of the broadcast far and wide across the Diocese. Understandably, I was much more cautious and asked her to play it low key for the first experimental broadcast in case we had problems.

Sure enough I found little gremlins had taken roost in my old computer overnight. At 6am on Sunday I was struggling to get things working at all. In the middle of this challenge just after 7am, Brenda Elldred sent me a message. She warned me that Michelle had a slot coming up on BBC Radio Northampton in just 10 mins time! Michelle if you are listening, if that’s a low key launch, then please give me plenty of warning when you decide to go full throttle!

My grumblings aside, the team did an amazing job. We managed to broadcast live and save the recording for later. At the peak, we had 55 computers, phones or tablets listening in. In some of those households there would have been more than one person. That is a fantastic congregation for our small Parish Church! I found out later that we had listeners in Peterborough and Newcastle, not forgetting of course Helen in Lincolnshire who’d helped us with the sound tests on Saturday. John Elldred was on music and Ken Owst was on microphones. I was at the back on the mixing desk frantically waving at them when needed. I do hope we didn’t distract the ministry team as they led the service in such unusual times. We’ll refine it next week.

Another 8 people joined the WhatsApp group yesterday and another 3 joined by email. This is excellent but the Council is still concerned that they are not reaching everyone in the Village. This coming week will see a concerted push to reach all households. We need to ensure that every household understands what is happening during this emergency and how it will affect them.

Naomi and the team at the Star and Garter were working flat out on take aways yesterday. Demand was so high that even she started to run out of some meals! That’s a fantastic response to the call for support – thank you. She has placed new orders with her suppliers but is now going to be tweaking the menus daily to suit the ingredients she that are delivered. We are working out the best way of posting the ever changing menu.

One of our residents in self-isolation was brave enough to post a request for help yesterday. 2 minutes later Stephen Simmons stepped in immediately and offered to help. That’s another amazing response thank you.

Mark Hunter went to Waitrose yesterday to propose the idea of a “letter of authorisation and identity” for volunteers shopping for the elderly and vulnerable. The duty manager accepted Mark’s proposal with only minor caveats. Joann Card was at work in ASDA when I messaged her with the news. She made the same proposition to her management. They agreed too! This is excellent – we are going to need this scheme soon. Mark is working out the details.

On the subject of shopping, Chris Pentland had a revelation yesterday. What’s actually in my cupboards already? Do I really need everything I was planning to buy? Over £1billion worth of food has been stock piled in the last week causing other people to go short and our food banks to suffer. Many stores still saw crazy scenes yesterday but some signs of normality were returning, especially with smaller independent shops being well stocked. Hold your nerve folks – there is plenty of food in the system. Sara Owst was actually pleased to report that she’d received donations of food and cash for the Rushden food bank – thank you all.

Just when I thought things had gone quiet, my phone went into overdrive shortly before 7pm last night. At the end of the Church service Michelle had asked people to light a candle in their front window as a gesture of solidarity on Mothering Sunday. She sent out a reminder at 6pm and I was overwhelmed by how many of the group responded with photos. Ken and Sara then went out round the Village and saw many windows with candles lit.

People often criticise the negative sides of social media but today has shown the good side.

So why am I in the Village Hall and not the Church this morning?

Well in part I realised that I have spent more hours in our Church in the last 4 days than in than in the whole of my 33 years in the Village. Actually, I bet old Michael Foulger is having a smile at this. He spent the final 20 years of his life trying to get me into Church and he only eventually managed it on the day I delivered his eulogy. But now it looks as if I’ll be in Church every Sunday, broadcasting for the foreseeable future. And they say God moves in mysterious ways!

My second reason is that the high speed broadband in the Church is replicated in the Village Hall. We have two Community Hubs from Gigaclear and it is important that we can use both for emergency broadcasts. I am testing this one in the Village Hall today.

However, the main reason for being here today is as part of the civil emergency plan for the Village. Most of you won’t realise it, but our Parish Council has an emergency plan designed to protect the Village in a period of crisis. They have never invoked the plan before, but came close last year when arsonists set fire to the barn in Bidwell Lane. The Fire and Rescue Service were within minutes of losing control of the fire, it was so fierce and water was scarce to fight it. The evacuation of Bidwell Lane was a real possibility.

In the event of evacuation, the Village Hall has an important role as an emergency reception centre. It is equipped to keep evacuees warm and to serve hot food and drinks if required. There is even an emergency phone line and a hook up point for an emergency generator. We have two internet connections both protected by battery backup. The Trustees of the Village Hall and the Parish Council jointly finance these emergency facilities on behalf of the Village.

The Prime Minister’s announcements yesterday were clear. Starting on Tuesday, some vulnerable members of our Village will be receiving letters directly from the NHS. The letters to those affected should all be delivered by Sunday. Please do not contact your GP to access whether you are on the list. This is all being handled centrally by the NHS.

Villagers receiving letters will be required to stay at home, not leaving their property under any circumstances for 12 weeks. This is to shield them from the virus and to prevent any illness overwhelming the NHS. Food and medicines will be delivered to these households by coordinated action from the army and their local councils. This will be worrying for many households affect but please remember you are not alone.

Last night the Parish Council invoked the Parish Emergency Plan and requisitioned the Village Hall for use as the coordination centre for the emergency. The Trustees of the Village Hall immediately suspended all remaining booked activities, public and private. All existing access codes for clubs and societies are being suspended. Access codes for the emergency coordination team will be enabled today. We’ll be contacting all those involved directly.

As the situation unfolds, the Village Hall will be the central point where any emergency supplies can be delivered ready for distribution to households by volunteers if required. It will also hold the key planning and coordination documents to ensure that they are not stored in the house of someone who might fall ill.

This might all sound a little scary for some of you, but please be reassured that your Parish Council has already planned for just such an emergency and that we have the facilities in the Village to deal with the challenge. I hope that all communities are as well prepared but I have to say I am very relieved to be living in this Village at this time. I know that the support mechanisms are in place.

Even better has been the sense of community and support that everyone has demonstrated during just the last 7 days. With this sense of community and the sound emergency plan, I know that we can weather this storm.

I’ll keep you posted as the situation develops this week. Later in the week Ray will broadcast on behalf of the Council, reviewing where we have got to and what will happen next.

In the meantime please enjoy the Spring day, but above all keep your distance and stay safe.

Thanks for listening