As we say goodbye to the last 12 months and prepare to usher in 2021, we’re taking stock of the ups and downs of the last year here in Bramhall.
Like the rest of the country – and, on a wider scale, the world – our little village has experienced an unprecedented nine months or so since the outbreak of Covid-19. It’s a storm we’ve weathered together as a community as best we could, and there’s no doubt we’re all hoping for a brighter 2021 with a return to something like ‘normal’.
Bramhall hasn’t escaped the hardest hitting effects of coronavirus, with some of our treasured local businesses like Silk Road and Pizza Express sadly becoming casualties of Covid-19 in 2020. Our hair, beauty and bar industries have suffered, too, and we’ve shared their frustration at not being able to do what they love, albeit for the sake of the greater good.
These poignant events have made our hearts heavy for those affected, and we hope beyond hope that more positive times are ahead.
Among the low points and ongoing changes to which we’ve had to adapt, however, a remarkable resilience has developed here in the village. Throughout a stormy nine months we’ve taken heart in the little things, banded together to help our most vulnerable residents and, all in all, done everything we can to get through the toughest of times together.
Here are our highlights from a year none of us will ever forget.
Our birthday party in January heralded a year of community spirit and fundraising – although we didn’t yet know it. The I Love Bramhall & I Love Cheadle Hulme team was joined by locals and representatives from businesses and organisations for a fun-filled night, with proceeds going to men’s mental health charity Mentell.
Later on in the year, despite the constraints of lockdown, we found new ways to celebrate special birthdays. Local resident and helper with the Friends of Lumb Lane Park group Bernard Burgess was treated to a celebratory serenade when he turned 84 – I Love Bramhall and local residents staged an impromptu singalong in the streets, with a surprised Bernard watching from his window! It was such a special moment that it was featured on BBC News – take a look here and relive the happy occasion.
Another special time of year, VE Day was marked differently in 2020, which only made it more special in our opinion. We organised a remote event to commemorate the 75th VE Day and were joined by hundreds of residents for socially distanced celebrations in the streets, culminating in a singalong of Vera Lynn classic We’ll Meet Again.
When lockdown was announced and travel restrictions came into force, many of us began spending more time in our local areas and shopping with the businesses on our doorstep. New ventures popped up, businesses diversified and we all got to know more about the wonderful products and services available close to home.
The importance of our keyworkers came under the spotlight, too, as news spread of our emergency services reaching crisis point. Displaying rainbows in our windows was a way to connect with each other and show solidarity, and we clapped for carers and those whose service we recognised as vital, and who weren’t able to stay at home in safety like the rest of us.
Lots of local crafters took up mask-making, with profits donated to charity, and some of our foodie businesses cooked up a storm to feed keyworkers at no cost in an amazing gesture of recognition for their selflessness.
Lots of our usual pastimes were out of bounds in 2020 but luckily, the summer months brought with them glorious weather, and we were able to spend plenty of time in the great outdoors. Bramall Park Golf Club, which had to close to golfers, kindly opened its course to walkers, enabling locals to enjoy the beautiful scenery during our daily exercise.
In late summer, we also became aware of something very special going on in Carrwood, when the local fairies decided to spread some cheer by leaving traces of their magic along one of our favourite walking routes. We can thank Jo Hoddes of Fuzzy Goose for persuading the fairies to reveal their doors to us in Carrwood this summer, and we believe some of them may still be there if you look carefully!
When autumn arrived and trick or treating was off the cards, we organised the Pumpkin Trail instead, which saw businesses and residents display colourful pumpkins in their windows for families to spot on their Halloween walks. With thousands of people getting involved (the google map was downloaded 26,321 times!) we decided to do the same in winter with the Santa Trail – anyone who wanted to get involved could decorate their home and business and register to be found on the trail, keeping young minds occupied and spreading a bit of Christmas spirit!
All of our businesses have been impacted in some way or another by Covid-19, with many having to overhaul their protocols or close altogether for periods during lockdown. It’s not been an easy ride but the businesses in Bramhall have adapted brilliantly to the changing rules and regulations around how to operate safely.
We’ve all had to get to grips with Zoom meetings and homeworking has become the norm, at least for the time being. Even our churches moved online in 2020 to ensure that residents could still experience services in the comfort of their own homes.
While some of our businesses remain closed to the public until the recent spike in virus cases comes down, many are still trading online, through takeaway and delivery services, or via vouchers that can be bought in advance. And despite a couple of permanent closures, we’re pleased to report that the majority of commercial properties in the village are still occupied.
Nothing could lift our lockdown spirits like a brand new addition to the team, and we were delighted to welcome our youngest member of staff, baby Rae, right at the beginning of lockdown. In August 2019, after six years of trying for a baby, Wendy’s PA Laura announced that she was expecting her little miracle, and we all waited with bated breath for the new arrival.
Towards the end of the pregnancy, however, Laura and her husband Rob were told to be prepared for an early delivery after problems were detected with the placenta. Coupled with Covid-19, the stress of pregnancy problems put extra strain on the pair, at a time when they should have been full of excitement and anticipation of their baby’s arrival.
Thankfully, baby Rae came into the world on 23 March – the first day of lockdown, a healthy – and tiny – 4lb 3oz. The couple’s precious little bundle even made the front page of the Guardian, and we were over the moon to welcome our own little Rae of hope to the team!
If just one positive is to be taken from the last year, it simply has to be the care and compassion of our community. Back in March, the lockdown announcement left many of our residents feeling vulnerable, isolated and scared. Those of us who were able to help, and who wanted to, found ways to give back to the community, such as through Helping Hands Bramhall.
Helping Hands is a group of volunteers who joined forces in March and who have helped members of the community in various ways, such as with errands and shopping, prescription deliveries and distanced catch-ups to ensure that no-one in the community feels alone or in need.
Coronavirus has hit families and individuals struggling financially particularly hard, so, to help, we also teamed up with some local superheroes to collect donations and funds for Chelwood Food Bank. Over seven months, our masked heroes have walked the streets of Bramhall delighting residents and raising more than £7,000 in the process, along with hundreds of bags of donations!
It’s been a year unlike any other, there’s no denying that, and while we can’t predict what 2021 will have in store for our village, we’re going out on a high with a community that’s more connected than ever before.
Thank you for your support this year – we can’t wait to bring you all the latest news, views and features in 2021! Bramhall, I LOVE you!
Watch this space…