Overnight, our entire existence and the way in which we lived our lives transformed, as our freedom - which we had so often taken for granted - evaporated.

As was the case throughout the UK, families and friends in Colchester and Tendring were no longer allowed to mingle and time outdoors was slashed to a minimum.

Face masks became mandatory, care homes were closed-off to the outside world, people rushed to panic-buy toilet roll and supermarkets deployed queuing systems.


Before long, living in isolation and working from home became the new normal, and reality as we had ever known it quickly morphed into a totalitarian novel.

The majority of people did as they were told – which is more than can be said for some of those occupying the higher echelons of government.

But despite everyone’s efforts to minimise Covid-19’s ability to latch, by adhering to the rules of the first lockdown, tragically, people died and families lost loved ones.

To date, 185,234 people in England have died within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus, which includes 560 in Colchester, 928 in Tendring and 6,031 in Essex.

Some, however, managed to defeat the virus, like David Lake, 59, of Clacton, although he admits at times he was unsure whether he would survive.

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“Having difficulty breathing has got to be probably the most frightening symptom of Covid-19,” he said, reflecting on his experience of coming down with coronavirus.

“The effort you have to put in just to breath when you a struggling for every breath is so tiring.

“I honestly thought I wasn't going to recover but even once I was discharged it took me almost a year to get any kind of energy - the fatigue was horrendous.”


In addition to the impact Covid-19 had on his health, Mr Lake’s wife’s company also suffered from the fallout of the pandemic and national lockdowns. 

He added: “We never thought this virus would be so disruptive to our way of life or our business.

“As the owner of a hair and beauty salon, my wife had to seek other employment because she wasn't allowed to open.

“The lockdown just added more unwanted stress but thankfully we're still here to tell the tale, thanks to the absolutely amazing NHS.

“They did us all very proud and each and everyone of them are heroes.”

In celebration of those very heroes and in memory of the north Essex souls who died as a result of Covid-19, Stanway Parish Council has today unveiled a memorial plaque.

The moving granite piece, made by Hunnaball Memorials, has been revealed in commemoration of the National Day of Reflection.

The UK-wide campaign encourages people to remember loved ones who have died and support those families who are grieving.

Dr Ed Garratt, chief executive of the NHS’s Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care Board, has now called on people in the county to do just that.

But he also wants residents to look to a future where communities continue to stand strong and look out for each other.


He said: “It’s incredible to think that Covid has been with us for three years, and heart breaking to consider the number of lives lost and distress caused to families and loved ones, as well the continued pain being experienced by those living with the symptoms of long-Covid.

“The National Day of Reflection is an opportunity to take time to remember the lives of those who have died and offer support to those who are grieving.

“I believe too the day is an occasion to embrace hope.

“During the pandemic our communities came together like never before, with an overwhelming sense of care and compassion for the needs and wellbeing others. 

“I shall be forever grateful for the efforts of local volunteers in helping keep the most vulnerable members of our communities safe. 

“I sincerely hope that sense of compassion will continue long after COVID has been defeated.

“The day is also a chance to thank again our fantastic health and care staff for all they have done over the past three years, and all that they continue to do, since COVID still very much remains with us. 

"Their dedication and hard work has been incredible.

“And my deepest sympathy lies with all those whose lives have touched by the death of a loved one or friend during the pandemic.”

The National Day of Reflection is organised by Marie Curie UK. 

There will be a one-minute silence at 12pm.

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