In a special address to residents, the Town Mayor and Chairman of Hailsham Town Council, Cllr Paul Holbrook, reflects on the current public health crisis and how it can be compared to the privations experienced during wartime, ahead of VE Day on Friday 8th May:
“In the approach to the 75th anniversary of VE Day – or Victory in Europe Day – on 8th May, we must take a moment to remember that VE Day was not only one of celebration marking the end of hostilities in Europe during World War Two, but it was also a moment of great sadness and reflection, as many people had lost their lives in the conflict with a great deal of individuals continuing to fight in other conflicts.
I’m sure those residents who lived through the Second World War and who are fortunately still with us today, have been reminded of the hardship of wartime when the coronavirus began to show a tightening of our liberties a few weeks ago.
Of course, wartime and the current public health situation cannot be considered the same, and to refer to the privations of today associated with the coronavirus, a ‘wartime spirit’ rhetoric suggests that we are at war. Indeed, the coronavirus is our enemy, but as a community, we can only protect ourselves and our loved ones, not battle it. Until a successful vaccine is introduced and disseminated, it can’t be eradicated.
Despite the differences in the two emergencies, around 80 years ago, the Second World War caused entire sectors countrywide to grind to a halt and, as a direct result, people’s everyday lives were turned upside-down and disrupted to such an extent, that people united and looked out for one another with a strong sense of community spirit. With the current situation, everyday living has effectively been put on hold too.
Unlike during wartime, when there was often little optimism, we must remain hopeful and positive. A cure for the coronavirus will eventually be created and put into effect. Stemming from that, our local economy will replenish itself, as will our daily lifestyle and everyday liberties such as meeting with our friends, visiting family and, for those who are currently working from home, returning to the workplace once again.
As Her Majesty The Queen said in her recent televised address to the nation, “We’ll meet again.”
Unfortunately, plans to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day in Hailsham on Friday 8th May had to be put on hold due to the current pandemic, referring to the Hailsham LIVE event organised by Hailsham News and its partners, including local community groups and the Town Council.
Nevertheless, a newly adapted virtual version of Hailsham LIVE on 8th May will be officially opened by myself and will include exclusive performances from some of the artists who were booked for Hailsham LIVE, as well as marking the national commemorations with the Last Post, Battles O’er and a Cry for Peace. There will also be music from the era and some other surprises along the way. The online event will be raising money for the Hailsham branch of the Royal British Legion.
This is an important online event which we will all await in anticipation.
In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to say that I am truly amazed and warmed by the way Hailsham is responding to the effects of the coronavirus and the disruption it’s causing. Like we did in wartime, let us all continue to help anyone in need, whether it be simple tasks like shopping and collecting medication for those who are vulnerable or self-isolating.
But, at the same time, please do heed the advice we have been given by the Government regarding social distancing. Please don’t put yourselves and others at risk. Let’s all stay at home, stay safe and protect one another. We will see this through.”
Terry Hall, Communications Officer
Hailsham Town Council, Market Street, Hailsham, East Sussex, BN27 2AE
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