The Wokingham Paper

It takes a village to help each other in a pandemic – how Hurst has worked together during the coronavirus

Hurst coronavirus pandemic
Volunteer Suzy Turner delivering shopping to Pamela Barnard, 77

Hurst’s band of more than 60 volunteers have performed hundreds of acts of kindness to help fellow villagers through the Covid-19 period.

Grateful residents, marooned at home shielding or self-isolating, have spoken of the amazing help they’ve had with shopping, collecting medicines and Post Office trips.

One of them, Pamela Barnard, 77, described the “horrendous situation” she and her late husband, Eldred, 80, found themselves in as the epidemic started.

While being treated for a broken leg, Eldred discovered he had cancer. Pamela, a retired teacher who helps at St Nicholas School, devoted herself to looking after her husband.

Early on, neighbour Suzy Turner had delivered notes in her area offering help to those affected by the epidemic.

Fortunately, Pamela and Eldred did not have Covid-19, but the virus situation meant some support was not possible, said Pamela. So she turned to Suzy for help to pick up medication and groceries.

“Suzy and her husband James have been amazing, they should have sainthoods. I’d never met them before. It was just knowing Suzy was there across the road,” said Pamela, who has also been helped by Louise Kendall and Liz Chaderton.

Very sadly, Eldred died just six weeks after hearing he had cancer.

Suzy also became one of the 60-plus who answered Hurst Parish Council’s call for volunteers to help during the epidemic.

The list of names, with telephone numbers, went to every Hurst home.

Suzy said: “For all of us I think going into lockdown was quite a frightening, unknown time.

“We needed to do something positive. Being part of the group means we can contribute and know that no one need flounder on their own.”

Chris Bovis, 70, has been helped by volunteer Becky Vaughan: “I haven’t had to use the volunteers very often but when I have needed to Becky has been there for me.”

Becky said: “Volunteers also took round frozen meals from Cook, chocolates from Chocoholics of Hurst and also Easter eggs.

“Some vulnerable themselves help with friendly phone calls. 

“Quite a few people here live on their own.

“Some have families with their own caring responsibilities or who live far away.”

Hurst Parish Council chair Wayne Smith praised the volunteers’ “amazing response and marvellous help”. 

He, a number of villagers and council clerk Maria Bradshaw founded the group. He said the Hurst Residents Coronavirus Action Group Facebook page started by Paul Palmer was now a valued community hub.

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