There’s little we can write about lockdown that hasn’t already been written over and over. For instance, the fact that it’s totally unprecedented. Or that no one could have predicted what this year would look like. In fact, any attempt to summarise this year in just a few words is bound to turn out looking a bit like cliché bingo.
Nevertheless, while things have gone a bit Groundhog Day for some of us, many remarkable heroes have entered the limelight and restored some sense of order, lightening our loads and injecting positivity into our days in their own inimitable ways. (We don’t mean Netflix or Cadbury’s, although their support certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed!)
Let’s look at just five incredible lockdown legends that have lifted our spirits and warmed our hearts in 2020.
1. The Queen
It’s no surprise that Her Majesty The Queen is first on this list.
In times of trouble, Brits often turn to the proud and historical institution that is the monarchy. They stand strong as a reminder of the trials and tribulations we have endured as a nation.
And who better to lead the way for us during the biggest global crisis in living memory than the monarch who has lived through so many testing times?
Her address to the nation was only the fifth to be delivered outside of wartime (discounting her annual Christmas message) during her 65-year reign.
As we watched from our sofas without a dry eye in the house, her emotional speech, stoically delivered, invoked the wartime spirit that many had spoken of. Her Majesty thanked key workers, as well as those staying at home, borrowed the words of the late Dame Vera Lynn to remind us that ‘we’ll meet again’ and poignantly pointed out that ‘the pride in who we are is not a part of our past – it defines our present and our future'
2. Captain Sir Tom Moore
Another admirable addition to the list that will surprise no one, Captain Sir Tom Moore is the 100-year-old veteran that captured the hearts of the nation with his fundraising efforts.
And what an effort it was. When he embarked on the first of his 100 laps around his garden in Bedfordshire on April 6th, he aimed to raise a respectable £1000 for NHS Charities Together.
But when the campaign took off, hitting local and regional news outlets, the goal was raised to £5000, and later £500,000. And on the morning of Captain Tom’s 100th birthday, less than a month after he commenced his walk, he had raised a staggering £32,796,475 – the highest of any JustGiving crowdfunder.
Only six days before, he had smashed another incredible achievement in becoming the oldest person ever to reach the Number 1 spot in the UK charts, celebrating his centenary at the coveted position with Michael Ball, whose cover of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ featured Sir Tom’s dulcet tones.
And to top it all off, his official title is now Captain Sir Tom Moore after he became the first person to receive a well-deserved post-lockdown knighthood.
3. Joe Wicks
Hundreds of thousands of parents have been grateful for Joe Wicks over the last few months.
The celebrity fitness instructor began hosting ‘P.E. With Joe’ back in March to help keep schoolchildren active whilst schools were closed.
Although the sessions have now finished, they’re still online to catch up with.
Aside from his valiant efforts to keep the nation’s kids moving in lockdown, Wicks also pledged to donate the profits from these videos to the NHS, raising over £500,000 in total.
The sessions also earned Wicks his second Guinness World Record for the feat of ‘most viewers for a fitness workout livestream on YouTube.’ His first was earned back in 2017 for ‘largest high-intensity interval training class’ which was hosted in Hyde Park.
4. Marcus Rashford
Our fourth lockdown legend on the list is Manchester United star-forward Marcus Rashford.
The 22-year-old football player recognised that with schools closing, many vulnerable children living in poverty would miss out on the free school meals that many families rely on.
Taking swift action, Rashford partnered with the charity FareShare to raise public awareness and distribute food to struggling families. The project began as a local effort in and around Greater Manchester, but soon the charity declared that with Rashford’s help they had been able to reach over 3 million people.
In addition to the £20 million raised with FareShare, Rashford had influence in high places, and back in mid-June his open letter to Parliament, calling for cross-party support, inspired the government to continue the voucher scheme which secured food vouchers while schools were closed for over 1.3 million vulnerable schoolchildren.
Rashford was inspired to intervene by his own humble beginnings, having been raised in a single parent family which benefitted from free school meals. Consequently, he has received a special recognition award from the High Sheriff of Greater Manchester and become the youngest ever recipient of an honorary degree from the University of Manchester.
5. Essential Workers
Whilst many beloved heroes have captured the public’s imagination with their original and often emotional acts of generosity and solidarity, it’s important to recognise amongst them the essential workers that have kept going while, for many of us, the world has ground to a halt.
From supermarket staff to delivery drivers, emergency services and of course our heroes in the NHS, these legends have worked tirelessly at great personal risk for the last three months, and we are eternally grateful to them.
For ten weeks between March and May, moving scenes emerged from across the country as people showed their appreciation every Thursday at 8PM, gathering in the street to applaud the nation’s key workers. The movement, Clap For Carers, began with a single Facebook post and inspired solidarity in communities across the nation – a potent reminder of the courage, resilience and unity that exemplify Britain at its best.
If you’ve enjoyed our reflection on the legends of lockdown, take a look at the following blogs: