And so, the end of another year has arrived, and this year has certainly been a very different type of year, one that has been overshadowed by the novel coronavirus, Covid-19. In many ways here in the UK and abroad we have seen the good side of human nature in adversity. We will obviously focus on Covid-19 throughout this review of the year.
The year began in the usual way with Big Ben chiming his bongs still shrouded in scaffolding, closely followed by the usual New Year celebration fireworks live from the River Thames, all of which were in the shadow of the celebrations that had already occurred in the time zones to the east, for example at L’Arc de Triomphe, and before that in Marina Bay, Dubai and even earlier at the Sydney Opera House. With many more firework celebrations to occur later in the western time zones namely Times Square.
Here in the UK many television sets were playing the tunes of Craig David live from his concert in London to mark the start of another new year; this must surely go down as one of the last live performances of 2019 as well as one of the first live performances to take place in 2020, thus the last and first of different decades!
2020 – A Year Like No Other
Always look on the bright side of life!
Always look on the bright side of life
If life seems jolly rotten,
There’s something you’ve forgotten!
And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing
As 2020 started for many with the excitement and hype that a New Year brings, it wasn’t all rosy around the world. Over in Australia the bush fires raged. Many Australians had called for the annual Sydney Opera House fireworks to be cancelled; however, they did indeed go ahead. The 2nd of January saw the Government of New South Wales declare a state of emergency with their counterparts in Victoria declaring a state of disaster. It is believed that the number of animal deaths reached 1 billion.
Sadly, the first death in our review occurred on the 3rd with the sad death of medium Derek Acorah at the age of 69. Derek was most well-known for his work on Most Haunted which was shown on Living TV.
Also, on the 3rd, the US launched a targeted drone strike on Iraq which killed Iranian Qasem Soleimani, who was seen as the leader of Iran’s right-hand man. This attack that was approved by President Trump was widely condemned. The Iranians retaliated with attacks on US bases on the 7th hour before Soleimani’s funeral, with no fatalities.
Back in the UK on the 9th, and a landmark day in the Brexit roadmap was reached when 330 MPs to 231 approved the EU Withdrawal Agreement on its third reading. The Agreement moved forward to be approved by the Lords the following week.
On the 13th there was a meeting at Sandringham amongst the senior Royals to discuss the future roles of Prince Harry and Meghan, who had previously said that they wanted to withdraw from public life. Her Majesty released a statement in which she spoke warmly of her family ties and insisted that the future be decided quickly.
Over in the States, and Donald Trump’s impeachment trial began on the 16th. Trump was being accused of 2 charges, 1 of Abuse of Power and charge 2 Obstruction of Congress. Trump became the third US President in history to face an impeachment trial following Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton.
On the 17th the sad news of the death of TV personality Derek Fowlds, at the age of 82, was announced. Derek appeared in many TV shows over his career, for children of a certain age he will be forever known as Mr Derek as he was called by his fox friend Basil Brush. He will also be known for his role as Sgt. Oscar Blaketon in ITV’s Heartbeat.
The 21st saw another TV Personality’s death, this time Monty Python’s Terry Jones. He will forever be best known for his work in the Monty Python films, however he was a writer, presenter, and actor on many other projects. Interestingly, Terry wrote a draft of Jim Henson’s Labyrinth but not much of his work remained into the final cut.
On the 26th the sporting world was shocked to hear the news of the death of basketball player Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, referred to as Gigi, in a helicopter crash. Kobe had spent the entirety of his 20-year playing career at LA Lakers. During that time, he won:
5 NBA Championships,
18 times All Star,
15 times member of the All-NBA team,
12-times member of the All-Defensive Team,
2008 NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP),
2 times NBA Finals MVP winner.
Kobe is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time.
The last death we will focus on in January was that of Nicholas Parsons. Nicholas was probably most famous for his Just a Minute radio show as well as other appearances for instance as Reverend Green in Cluedo on TV as well as for children when he played the Mayor in Bodger and Badger. Nicholas died at the age of 96 years old.
January 30th saw the World Health Organization (WHO) declare the outbreak of the coronavirus outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. The coronavirus had been identified in China back in December. It was the 6th time that the measure by the WHO had been invoked since 2009.
At 11pm on the 31st, the UK and Gibraltar formally withdrew from the European Union beginning an 11-month transition period; this means that effectively the country has left the EU.
You got to try a little kindness
Yes show a little kindness
Just shine your light for everyone to see
And if you try a little kindness
Then you’ll overlook the blindness
Of narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets
Bobby Austin / Curt Sapaugh
Into February we go, and on the 5th US President Donald Trump was acquitted in his impeachment trial by the House of Senate. He was acquitted as neither of the 2 charges received the two thirds supermajority of Senators.
It was February 12th that a phrase we have got so used to hearing and talking about this year was introduced as the World Health Organization named the coronavirus as Covid-19. This would go on to impact the world and be talked about all over the country.
On the 15th of February, the news broke that TV personality, Caroline Flack, had been found dead at her flat at the age of just 40 years old; it was later announced that she had committed suicide. Throughout her career, Caroline had presented a wide range of shows, most popular prior to her death was Love Island. Caroline was troubled by a court case that was due to begin against her, as well as the flow of social media comments towards her, some of which were in the negative. Her death sparked the ‘Be Kind’ movement, encouraging people to be kind to each other online.
Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on
March was the month when normality as we knew it started to change. You could say that March was the beginning of the madness that we lived and survived through this year.
We start with the sad news of the death of one of the BBC’s Eggheads, Dave ‘Tremendous Knowledge Dave’ Rainford at the age of 51. Dave died at home from chronic heart disease. He was regarded along with his fellow quiz team members as one of the greatest quizzers in the country.
It was on the 11th that the World Health Organization declared the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) as a pandemic. This meant that the disease had spread across a large area, in this case China, Iran, Western Europe and the United States.
On the same day our Queen, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, became the longest reigning monarch in the Americas, in surpassing Pacal The Great of Palenque, who had held the record of 68 years from 615 to 683. The Queen is now 4th in the all-time list. The next target date to become the 3rd longest reigning monarch in history is May the 7th 2022, or to becoming the longest ever reigning monarch, she would have to reign until May 26th 2024 to overtake King Louis XIV of France.
Also, on the 11th French chef and restauranteur Michel Roux Snr died at the age of 78. Roux was a Michelin 3-star chef, currently one more than his nephew, Michel Roux Jnr. Roux died at home from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
And so, we get to the 13th of March, when sports really began to be brought into the spotlight as they began to postpone or cancel their seasons; the 13th saw the postponement of the Premier League leaving its runaway leaders needing just 2 more wins to collect the title. Initially it was postponed until April 4th with further postponements following on. The Ice Hockey season lasted 2 more weekends meaning that, although on the last weekend before cancelling the season, the NIHL title was decided with the win going to the Telford Tigers and our Swindon Wildcats finishing in second place.
Following on from criticism of the Government on issues of transparency on their dealing with the Coronavirus crisis, the Government started daily news briefings to be led by the Prime Minister and other senior ministers on the 16th. The briefings were designed to ensure transparency of how they were dealing with the crisis. Throughout the pandemic the briefings were held with a scientist or health specialist as well as experts in other fields dependent on the announcements being made by the minister. The majority of these were led by video conferencing of journalists and members of the public.
The phrase of the year was introduced on the 17th, and that phrase is ‘social distancing’, the emergence of tape on the floors outside and inside of supermarkets, ensuring that shoppers keep 2 metres apart from each other. Not only this but the commencement of limited numbers of people to be allowed in the store to ensure the 2-metre distance can be upheld.
To add to what was a busy week of Covid-19 announcements and events, the 18th of the month saw the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, announce that as of the 20th (Friday) schools, colleges and nurseries would close their doors to all but essential staff and key workers’ children. Children were to be home schooled from Monday.
One half of Islands in the Stream duet singers, Kenny Rogers, died on the 20th of the month, with tributes to him led by his duet partner Dolly Parton. Kenny died at the age of 81. He will always be remembered for his country music, although he was a singer, songwriter, actor, record producer and entrepreneur. He was inducted into the Country Hall of Fame in 2013.
On the 23rd Prime Minister Johnson addressed the nation and announced the start of a lockdown in the United Kingdom,
although it was never referred to by him as a lockdown. In his address to the nation, he announced that people should Stay Home, Protect the NHS and Save Lives. In his message of staying at home he stated that weddings, funerals, and other family gatherings were to be cancelled, churches were closed, holidays became cancelled. In his address he announced that following on from earlier advice, now people should not gather with anyone from outside of their own home. By this point, top-flight football in the UK had been suspended, the Formula 1 season start had been postponed, along with other sports. The week before the announcement however, there had been a UEFA Champions League game in Liverpool which saw thousands of people arrive in the city from Spain, a hotspot for the virus, and later studies have attributed many deaths in the city to this game. The other major sporting event the week before was the Cheltenham Race Week. Hundreds of thousands of people had arrived at the racecourse to enjoy the horse racing, the Government would later be criticised for allowing the event to take place.
During the first week of ‘Lockdown’, at 8pm on the Thursday, many people up and down the country gathered outside in their gardens, kerbs, or balconies to #ClapfortheNHS which later became #ClapforourCarers. The person behind the idea suggested after the 9th version of this that the 10th week should be the end of the weekly clap.
2 events took place on the 30th. We shall start with the death of music legend Bill Withers. Bill was a famous singer, songwriter musician who died at the age of 81. He will be eternally remembered for such hits as Lean on Me, Ain’t No Sunshine and Lovely Day. Bill was entered into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.
Also, on the 30th, saw the much-anticipated postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, which will now take place in 2021, due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
I, I’m a one-way motorway
I’m the one that drives away
Then follows you back home
I, I’m a street light shining
I’m a wild light blinding bright
Burning off alone
It’s times like these you learn to live again
It’s times like these you give and give again
It’s times like these you learn to love again
It’s times like these time and time again
Nate Mendel/Dave Grohl/Taylor Hawkins/Chris Shiflett
As we move into April, The Excel Centre in London was temporarily known as NHS Nightingale from the 3rd, becoming a hospital for up to 4,000 patients during the pandemic. Although it wasn’t used, it was an important step to ensure that the NHS didn’t become overwhelmed by the pandemic. The Nightingale was opened by Prince Charles at 11am, with other NHS Nightingales planned across the country.
The 5th saw the sad death of Alexander Thynn, the 7th Marquess of Bath, styled the Viscount Weymouth, better known as Lord Bath. The aristocratic landowner is probably most well-known for his eccentric dress-sense and for the safari park that surrounds his family home at Longleat. However, Lord Bath sat in the House of Lords from 1992 to 1999. He was also a self-acclaimed artist and author. Lord Bath will live on through Longleat via the work that his son will continue to do.
On the 8th Her Majesty the Queen addressed the nation and the Commonwealth at 8pm BST. This special address was only the 5th that she has given outside of her traditional Christmas speech. The other occasions were as follows:
1991 – During the Gulf War,
1997 – Eve of the funeral of Princess Diana,
2002 – Following the death of her mother, The Queen Mother,
2012 – Her Diamond Jubilee.
In her message The Queen stated ‘by keeping apart we keep others safe’ she went on to talk about how Easter was not cancelled and how the new hope and fresh purpose of the festival was needed now more than ever. Her Majesty managed to get the tone of her message on point which is a trait that she has and has repeatedly demonstrated during her long reign.
At the time of the national address by Her Majesty, her 14th Prime Minister of her reign, Boris Johnson, was being admitted to St Thomas’ hospital with Covid-19 having self-isolated for the previous 10 days. On the 6th he was admitted to Intensive Care with deteriorating symptoms, where he stayed for 3 days before making his recovery.
On the same day that Boris Johnson was admitted to Intensive Care, the sad news of the death of Honor Blackman reached
us. Honor died at the age of 94 having had a successful career as an actress. Honor is probably best known for her role as Pussy Galore in Goldfinger although TV audiences may remember her best for her role of Laura West in ITV’s Upper Hand. Her work will continue to endure and ensure that she is never forgotten.
On the 9th of the month, at 8pm in line with the Clap for Carers, we changed our logo star from its default yellow to blue, along with our name. Although it is a small gesture, it was designed to show that we were supporting the hard work of all the key workers who were fighting the pandemic on the front line.
In her appearance at the Daily Press Briefing on the 11th, the Home Secretary Priti Patel MP launched #Youarenotalone. The idea behind this message was to reassure people who may be suffering from domestic abuse that they are not alone, and that if they needed to, they should leave their house, even though the guidelines of the time were to stay at home.
It was sad news on the 12th following the announcement that motor racing legend Sir Stirling Moss had died. Sir Sterling is often referred to as the greatest racing driver to never win the World Title. Throughout his Formula 1 career Sir Sterling won 212 of his 529 races. Between 1955 and 1961 he finished runner-up in the standings 4 times and in third place for the remaining 3 years. Sir Sterling Moss died at the age of 90 following a long illness.
In a tribute to care workers up and down the country, Rhod Gilbert and BBC Wales released an episode of his Work Experience series early to shine a spotlight on the hard work that care workers do. The episode was due to be released as part of the next series, having been filmed before the social distancing measures were brought in. Rhod is seen working alongside staff in a care home and on the road with carers visiting clients’ houses. Through his unique style of comedy and honesty, he perfectly showed the hard work that is done every day by carers up and down the country.
This year saw the deadliest rampage of all time in Canadian history. Between the 18th and 19th, Gabriel Wortman committed murders and set fires at 16 locations across Nova Scotia. During the spree, Wortman had impersonated a police officer, driving around in a fake police car, wearing a police uniform. He was shot and killed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, having killed 22 and injured 3 other people.
On the 23rd for the first ever, the 2 BBC charities BBC Children in Need and Comic Relief came together for a one-off telethon, to raise money for those who were in need. The telethon was entitled The Big Night In. By the end of the evening over £27.3 million had been raised. The Government had agreed to match all public donations if the minimum £20 million was achieved!
Tutti Frutti, oh rootie
Tutti Frutti, oh rootie
Whooo, Tutti Frutti, oh rootie
Tutti Frutti, oh rootie
Tutti Frutti, oh rootie
Wop-bop, a-loo-bop, a-lop-bop-bop
R. Penniman / D. LaBostrie
Covid-19 continued to affect the UK as we entered May. On the 5th of the month the UK sadly became the highest number of deaths in Europe with 32,313 deaths surpassing the previous highest record of deaths, that of Italy’s tally thus far of 29,029. These numbers continued to rise in the following weeks.
The 6th saw astronomers announce a black hole which was visible with the naked eye. The black hole lies just 1,000 light years from Earth and is the closest black hole identified to Earth.
The first death of May in this review occurred on the 9th with the passing of music icon, Little Richard, born Richard Wayne Penniman. Throughout the history of popular music, Little Richard is listed as being an influence on other artists. The list of artists who name him as an influence is large but includes such greats as Freddie Mercury, Elton John, David Bowie, Michael Jackson, and members of The Beatles. He will always be remembered probably most for his tune Tutti Frutti as well as for the influence he had on others. He died at the age of 87.
A sad event occurred on the 12th when gunmen stormed a maternity hospital in Dashte Barchi which is a majority Shia neighbourhood of Kabul, Afghanistan. The whole event lasted an hour, and during that time 24 people were killed, including 2 newborn babies, their mothers, and an undisclosed number of nurses. It is unclear as to why the maternity hospital was chosen as a target of terror. The Interior Minister of Afghanistan, Tareq Arian declared the attack as an ‘act against humanity and a war crime.’
Following days of controversy over whether he had broken the lockdown rules which resulted in calls by many for his
resignation or sacking, something the Prime Minister stated wouldn’t happen, on the 25th Dominic Cummings hosted an unprecedented Press conference in the Rose Garden of Number 10. Firstly, who is Dominic Cummings? He is the Prime Minister’s Chief Advisor. It was reported that he had broken the rules of lockdown by travelling from London to Durham with his family where he isolated during the time, he had Covid-19. He had also been seen in Barnard Castle, during the press conference he explained why he had been in Barnard Castle, stating that he had driven there ‘to check his eyesight’ was ok for the return trip to London. A police investigation later stated that no action would be taken. Later in May it was announced that he would step down from his role in 6 months.
In lighter, happier news events, on the 26th Costa Rica became the first Central America country to legalise same-sex marriages.
Sadly, not all good news occurred on the 26th, with protests breaking out across hundreds of cities in the United States following the death of George Floyd. George was a 46-year-old black man from Minneapolis. He was arrested following a 911 call to the police from a deli owner, as George had tried to pay for his cigarettes allegedly with a counterfeit $20 bill. 17 minutes after the arrival of the first squad car, George was unconscious with no signs of life under 3 police officers. A white police officer is seen in videos with his knee placed on his neck and is seen to not lift it off until a full minute after the arrival of the paramedics. These events have sparked protests in cities, and in June social media was flanked in black squares in solidarity for a day, with the message the show must be paused. The issue of racism in the United States has again raised its ugly head. Across social media #BlackLivesMatter appeared, we stand in solidarity with this message, along with #AllLivesMatter.
Over in China, on the 27th, the Chinese National People’s Congress voted in favour of National Security Legislation. This legislation was designed to prevent subversion, terrorism, separatism, and foreign influence in Hong Kong. The passing of this legislation caused protest to commence in Hong Kong. The U.S. Secretary of State declared that following the passing of the legislation, Hong Kong was no longer autonomous. The other issue with the newly passed legislation is that it breaks the 50-year rule that was introduced when the UK returned Hong Kong to China in 1997, which was designed to ensure a one country 2 systems until 2047.
On the 27th ITV’s The Bill’s DS Ted Roach aka Tony Scannell died. Tony will forever be remembered for his portrayal of the no-nonsense detective, as well as for his role in Channel 5’s soap opera Family Affairs, Eddie Harris, from 1997 until 1999. Tony had many other roles throughout his career, and his work will live on through repeats on the many television channels available. Tony died at the age of 74.
The following day saw more Covid-19 policy announcements from the Prime Minister. He announced that he would be releasing the lockdown, allowing groups of 6 people to meet in outdoor spaces, providing they keep the distance of 2 metres, and this could include for the first time in people’s own back gardens. He announced also that face coverings are recommended in enclosed areas to help protect from the disease. Although the slogan has changed from Stay at Home to Stay Alert, the message was still clear that hand washing regularly must occur to prevent the spread. These changes and others were due to come into effect from the 1st of June.
In an historic moment on the 30th, the first crewed flight of the Dragon 2 launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The launch was originally due to take place on the 27th but due to bad weather was postponed with 17 minutes to take off. This successful launch was the first manned spacecraft to take off from US soil since Space Shuttle Atlantis took off for the final Space Shuttle mission on July 8th 2011.
The crew on the Dragon 2 arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) after a 14-hour journey on the 31st, a truly historic moment as the first crew to arrive at the ISS having launched from American soil since 2011. Want to view the ISS as it orbits above your head? You can find out when it is visible by visiting:
We’ll Meet Again
Don’t know where, don’t know when
But I know We’ll Meet Again
Some sunny day
Keep smiling through
Just like you always do
‘Till the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away
Dame Vera Lynn
On the 1st amendments to the Covid-19 restrictions came in force, which meant that car and caravan showrooms, outdoor sport amenities and outdoor non-food markets could re-open. The amendments also meant that schools reopened for more children, having remained open for key workers’ children throughout. In this revision Nursery, Reception, and Years 1 and 6 were allowed back. There were also no fines for parents who decided to not send their child to school.
The following day saw the UK Government scale back to weekdays only the daily Coronavirus updates that came live from Downing Street, the Prime Minister made the commitment to lead 1 per week.
Following the death of George Floyd last month in the US, protests in aid of #BlackLivesMatter continued, and here in the UK on the 7th a statue of Edward Colston a 17th Century slave trader was pulled down and thrown into Bristol Harbour.
The 15th saw a return to some sort of normality for the UK as the Government allowed the general re-opening of English retail shops and public-facing businesses apart from those that are on a list of specific exclusions such as restaurants, bars, pubs, nightclubs, most cinemas, theatres, museums, hairdressers, indoor sports and leisure facilities, restaurants and pubs were allowed to open offering a takeaway meal option only. Outdoor animal-related attractions such as farms, zoos and safari parks were allowed to re-open as were places of worship for private prayer only. English libraries had to remain closed. The re-opening of Secondary schools for Years 10 and 12 came today, while all other children who weren’t already back in the classroom had to continue to be home-schooled, and teachers delivered remote learning via the internet.
We lost 2 famous faces in 2 days, starting on the 17th when it was announced that former snooker player and commentator Willie Thorne had died at the age of 66. During his career Willie won 1 ranking and 6 non-ranking titles, notably the 1985 Classic. He was one of the first players to make a century of century breaks and he earned the nickname Mr Maximum.
Sadly, on the 18th the Forces Sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn died at the age of 103 years. Just a few short weeks earlier, Dame Vera had the country in a rousing rendition of her hit ‘We’ll Meet Again’ to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day. During the Second World War, Dame Vera gave outdoor concerts for the troops in Egypt, India, and Burma during the war as part of Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA). Not only was she famous for her work during the war, Dame Vera was the first centenarian performer to have a Top 10 album in the charts, when she released Vera Lynn 100 in 2017 which reached number 3 in the album charts.
We head back to the Covid-19 pandemic now with the last Daily Government briefing live from Downing Street which took place on the 24th. It was announced that there would be regular updates given from the podium, but not daily as had been. During this announcement pubs, hotels, restaurants, cinemas, barbers, and hairdressers were all allowed to open. There was a new rule that came into force, which meant that people from 2 individual houses could meet inside, but sadly for Gyms and swimming pools they were still not allowed open. Face coverings became mandatory for the first time, initially on public transport.
On the 25th following the recommencement of the football season, the new Champions of England were confirmed thanks
to a result at Stamford Bridge which saw Chelsea beat Manchester City 2-1 meaning that Liverpool Football Club could not be caught in the table and were therefore crowned top-flight champions for the first time in 30 years. They had to wait a few weeks however to receive the trophy.
‘They think it’s all over,
It is now!’
We start our review of July on the 4th when the UK held a Minute silence for all those who died Covid-19. During the minutes silence, people were asked to light a candle while buildings were lit up blue including Number 10.
On the 5th the 72nd anniversary of the NHS was marked with a national round of applause and a spitfire flypast. The round of applause built on the success of the weekly clap for carers in the first 10 weeks of the pandemic. It is hoped that the applause will become an annual feature to mark the anniversary of the NHS. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was marking the applause on the steps of Number 10 with Annemarie Plas who had started the weekly clap. A Spitfire with the message Thank you NHS flew past hospitals across the east of the country finishing in Cambridge.
On the 7th The Trump Administration of The United States officially declared its intention to withdraw from the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2021. This came with widespread criticism and almost a complete lack of international support whilst in the midst of a pandemic. Donald Trump had announced this was his plan back in May accusing the WHO, without evidence, of withholding information, and of being too close to China. As this is American election year, a lot of focus was put on the thoughts of others who may become President later in the year, for example, Joe Biden announced that ‘Americans are safer when America is engaged in strengthening global health, on my first day as President, I will re-join the WHO and restore our leadership on the world stage.’
The footballing world lost a legend of the game on the 10th as England 1966 World Cup winner Jack Charlton died. Jack was a 6ft 1in centre back, as well as manager. During his career he played for Leeds United throughout his career, as well as for the national team. His most famous playing day was obviously the 1966 World Cup final. Jack went on to manage club sides as well as most notably the Republic of Ireland National side where he achieved a 49.46%-win rate. Jack Charlton died at the age of 85.
The 11th saw more of the restrictions lifted following the lockdown allowing outdoor swimming pools and water parks to re-open. Operators of outdoor swimming pools, many of them run by community groups and charities criticised the UK Government’s timing, citing the lack of preparation time that has made the short summer season unviable, because of this some decided not to open at all, in response to the criticism the Government stated that there was comprehensive guidance available to support these activities.
Close behind were more relaxations coming on the 13th which allowed the re-opening of nail bars and salons, tanning booths and salons, spas, massage and beauty salons, tattoo parlours and body and skin piercings services.
On the 14th it became compulsory for face coverings to be worn in shops and supermarkets in England. Those who failed to do so, and were not exempt, would receive a £100 fine. The Health Secretary said the move ‘will give people more confidence to shop safely and enhance protections for those who work in shops’
The 14th was also the day that the Digital Media minister Oliver Dowden announced to the House of Commons that the country’s mobile providers will be banned from buying 5G equipment from Huawei as of December the 31st and they will be required to remove it from their networks by 2027. Lord Browne had resigned from his position as Chairman of Huawei’s UK Branch shortly before the announcement.
Things looked like they were on the up for sport fans on the 17th as the Prime Minister announced a pilot scheme for a return to spectator sports, with a view to a full return by the 1st October. The first 2 sporting events to trial spectator return was to be the delayed 2020 World Snooker Championship and the Glorious Goodwood Festival. He also announced a pilot scheme for a return to indoor performances with socially distanced audiences at theatres, music, and performance venue, with a planned full return in August. Sadly, the full planned returns did not actually happen.
Also, on the 17th and both events taking place at Windsor Castle saw Princess Beatrice marry Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi in a private ceremony attended by the Queen and close family, the ceremony had been postponed from May 29th due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
On the Same Day, at the same venue, Her Majesty the Queen knighted Captain Tom Moore. Captain Tom first came into the
public awareness in April when he began a fundraising campaign for NHS Charities Together. With his 100th birthday approaching he aimed to complete 100 25-metre laps of his garden, with the aid of his walking frame, covering 10 laps per day. His initial goal of £1,000 was realised on the 10th April. He achieved his goal on the morning of the 16th April watched at a safe distance by a guard of honour from the 1st Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment, for who he served, and stated that he would not stop and aimed to do a second 100! By the morning of his 100th birthday he had raised £30 million. His final fundraising tally stood at £32,796,475.
Also, on the 17th British Airways announced that it planned to retire its entire fleet of Boeing 747, also known as the Queen of the Skies, 4 years ahead of schedule following the downturn in travel because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The 20th saw some hope in the UK as the UK signed a deal for 90 million doses of vaccines that looked promising that were being developed jointly by pharmaceutical companies BioNtech and Pfizer, and by Valneva. This deal was in addition to the 100 million doses being developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca.
After 18 weeks of presenting online PE classes entitled PE with Joe, Joe Wicks lead his final daily exercise session on the 20th, thank you Joe for keeping the children of the country fit while at home!
Then bad news hit as Boris Johnson postponed some lockdown easing measures that he had scheduled to take place on the 1st August. His announcement coming the day before. Spectator sports were to no longer have fans, Bowling alleys and casinos would remain closed until the 15th August and wedding receptions of 30 people were also moved back to the 15th August. He also made face coverings mandatory in more indoor settings for example cinemas and places of worship as of the 8th of August.
I was a liar
I gave into the fire
I know I should’ve fought it
At least I’m being honest
Feel like a failure
‘Cause I know that I failed you
I should’ve done you better
‘Cause you don’t want a liar
The delayed 2020 World Snooker championship got underway on the 31st of July, and it was part of the trial to allow spectators back into sporting events. Sadly, this did not last long as the announcement came during the first days play that spectators would not be allowed at sporting events as of the 1st August. Much of the tournament was run with no spectators in the great sporting venue that is The Crucible Theatre, Sheffield. However, for the final 2 days, which coincided with the final of the tournament spectators were once again allowed in the venue at a social distance.
Also, the 1st of the month saw the pausing of the shielding programme in England and Scotland, although it continued in areas where extra precautionary measures had been introduced. The shielding programme had affected over 2 million people since it was introduced in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
On the 2nd, after a successful space mission which started with take-off on the 30th of May, the first manned mission to the International Space Station from American soil came to an end with the Space X Dragon’s splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida.
In an attempt to get the economy moving once again following the lockdown, Chancellor Rishi Sunak had announced a discount scheme to be used on meals in indoor venues who had signed up, for example pubs and restaurants. The idea was to offer a 50% discount for 3 days a week, with the 50% being paid for by the UK Government. Whilst the scheme on the whole was success through the month, some experts blame the scheme for an uptick in the number of cases of Covid-19.
A major explosion occurred in the port of the city of Beirut on the 4th. The cause of the explosion was found to be Ammonium Nitrate which is stored in large quantities at the port. The explosion caused 204 deaths and 6,500 injuries as well as an estimated $15 billion worth of damage. The Ammonium Nitrate had been stored at the site for 6 years without any proper safety measures, there was a fire at the warehouse prior to the explosion, however as of November 2020, the cause of the actual ignition is still being investigated.
There were fears this year that a popular ITV programme would not take place due to its usual venue is in Australia. Of course, we refer to I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! However, on the 7th of the month ITV announced that it would take place this year in a castle in Wales, this allayed the fears of many of the fans of the show.
Over in the United States, everyone was getting interested into the Presidential race that would take place over the next few months, and now that the 2 main protagonists were found to battle it out, the incumbent President Donald J Trump and Joe Biden, thoughts turned to who Joe Biden would choose as his running mate and therefore potential Vice-President. His choice was none other than Kamala Harris. Should Kamala become the Vice President of the United States of America, she would become the first female in the role as well as the first African American person to hold the office.
August is the month when young people up and down the country look to receive their exam results and look to see if they have done enough to secure their place at their chosen college or university. This year was all very different. With no examinations to sit, initially the results were going to be calculated by an algorithm. However, at the last minute, the Education Secretary made a U-turn and were teacher assessed. At the time, the indecision and confusion were stressful for young people who were going through the process. However, the U-turn was the right decision for all.
On the 16th the last of the devolved administrations in the UK ending their shielding programme. This devolved administration was Wales. Since the start of the lockdown over 92,000 had been shielded under this scheme, protecting them from the Covid-19 disease.
Next, we have to head back to 2017 to the event that caused the next event in our review to take place. So, firstly let us go back to the 22nd of May 2017, and the awful events of that evening at the MEN Arena, Manchester at the end of an Ariana Grande concert. At that time, a terrorist detonated a bomb that caused the death of 22 innocent people, 1 as young as 8 years old. On the 20th of August this year, Hashem Abedi the younger brother of the bomber was sentenced to a minimum of 55 years in prison by the High Court of Justice of England and Wales. He had been found guilty back in March of 22 charges of murder for assisting his brother in carrying out the attack by sourcing the materials needed to create the bomb.
August 28th saw the entertainment industry lost yet another young actor in the form of Chadwick Boseman. He was
probably most famous for his role in movies as the Black Panther. Chadwick died at the young age of 43.
In the all the dark and gloom of the year of the Covid pandemic, there was some hope and light in the football world for fans on the 29th as a football match took place with spectators for the first time since March. The match at the Amex Stadium, Brighton saw the home team Brighton and Hove Albion play Chelsea. The game ended in a draw in front of 2,500 spectators.
Land of Hope and Glory, Mother of the Free,
How shall we extol thee, who are born of thee?
Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set;
God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet,
God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet.
Music by Edward Elgar, Lyrics A. C. Benson
September starts with the BBC announcing on the 2nd that they have decided to reverse their controversial decision to ban the songs ‘Rule Britannia!’ and ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ from the 2020 Last Night of the Proms over concerns that the songs have links to colonialism and slavery. Originally, back on September the 12th the BBC had said that they would just use instrumental versions of the songs, to which the Prime Minister in an interview said, ‘I cannot believe… that the BBC is saying that they will not sing the words of Land of Hope and Glory or Rule Britannia! as they traditionally do at the end of The Last Night of The Proms… I think it’s time we stopped our cringing embarrassment about our history, about our traditions, and about our culture, and we stopped this general bout of self-recrimination and wetness.’ There are critics of the songs however who say that they are outdated and glorify racism. 2 such critics are Chi-Chi Nwanoku and Gareth Malone.
Over in Brussels on the 4th there was an athletics meeting of the Diamond League where 2 athletes broke the World Record for running the most distanced covered in 1 hour. These athletes were Briton, Mo Farrah who ran 21,330 metres and the Dutch female athlete Sifan Hassan who ran 18,930 metres.
The world of entertainment lost yet another star on the 10th in the form of Dame Diana Rigg DBE. Dame Diana had appeared in many tv shows and on stage, but she will be mostly remembered for playing Emma Peel in The Avengers during the 60s and as the wife of James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Diana became a Dame in 1994 and died at the age of 82.
We return to the main story of the year, and yet more restrictions were introduced on the 14th by the UK Government, this was the first time that we heard the phrase ‘Rule of 6’. This meant that social gatherings could only consist of 6 people. There was an introduction of legal requirements for venues to gather data as well as the introduction of Operation Moonshot. This programme introduced same day mass testing in England as a way of enabling large gatherings of people to take place while maintaining control over the virus. According to the British Medical Journal, the programme aimed to deliver 10 million tests per day by 2021.
We end the month of September with a sporting achievement in the delayed 24 hours of Le Mans. The Victorious team for the third straight year was the Toyota Gazoo Racing number 8 car, this year driven by Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima, and Brendon Hartley.
He’s the man
The man with the Midas touch
A spider’s touch
Such a cold finger
Beckons you to enter his web of sin
But don’t go in
We start the month with the sad news of the death of the son of one the UK’s best loved comedy character’s actor, Archie Lyndhurst. Archie had followed his dad, Nicholas, into the world television and had starred in a CBBC programme called So Awkward as Ollie Coulton. Archie died at the age of 19.
Also, on the 1st in Covid-19 related news, The Welsh Government gave permission for the ITV to film the reality TV show, I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here at Gwrych Castle despite Conwy being subject to a local lockdown.
And the Covid news did not stop there on the 1st as Scottish National Party MP Margaret Ferrier was suspended from the party as it had emerged that she had travelled by train from her constituency to Westminster whilst she was experiencing Covid-19 symptoms. This was a flagrant disregard of the rules that the whole country was living by at the time. Ferrier said that there was ‘no excuse’ for her behaviour.
Finally, 6 months late the annual London Marathon took place on the 4th, but sadly this time the only athletes pounding the streets of London were the elite athletes. But never fear for all the others that would have ordinarily running round the streets in their costumes for charity found other ways to run the 26.25 miles. Some used their treadmills, in costume of course, others ran round their gardens, and some ran the 26.25-mile route around their local areas, all raising money for charities that were in need. Well done to everyone.
Earlier, in July, we discussed that British Airways were going to retire their entire Boeing 747 fleet, and sadly on the 8th, the last 2 took to the skies, one flew close to our HQ and landed at Cotswold Airport and the other headed for Cardiff. You can view a video of their final flight here:
On the 12th Facebook made an announcement stating that they will ban all Holocaust denial on its platform.
Also on the 12th was the announcement of a restriction tier system that would be in effect from the 14th. Most of England found itself in tier 2, with a few areas in the highest tier 3, with our local neighbours Cornwall in tier 1.
Down Under, New Zealanders had gone to the polls to elect their next Prime Minister, and for the first time since the Proportional system came into force in 1996, Jacinda Ardern and her Labour party won a majority. Jacinda was the incumbent Prime Minister at the time of the election. She has been Prime Minister of New Zealand since 2017.
We jump forward to the 27th to a big announcement by the Telecommunication regulator Ofcom. They said that as of December 2021 all mobile network providers in the Britain will be banned from selling locked phones.
We lost a legend of comedy on the 28th, as the news of the death of one half of the comedy duo, Cannon and Ball. Sadly,
Bobby Ball had passed at the age of 76. Bobby’s real name was Robert Harper. Over the years Bobby has starred in many TV shows, and on the stage with his comedy partner. The comedy world will miss him – ‘Rock on Tommy!’
Another member of the 3 lions winning World Cup squad died on the 30th of the month. Nobby Stiles will always be remembered for his celebrations after the World Cup final in 1966, his joyful dance on the pitch with the Jules Rimet Trophy as well as his toothless grin. Nobby (Norbert) was awarded the MBE in 2000. Through his playing career he played for Manchester United, Middlesbrough and Preston North End, before going on to have a managerial career with Preston North End and West Bromwich Albion.
Football fans up and down England will always be grateful to all the 1966 squad for bring home the Jules Rimet trophy on home ground!
While we are talking sporting success, let us congratulate the England Rugby side for successfully winning the Rugby 6 Nations title for 2020, they had to wait for the title because of the lockdown, but thankfully they were able to win the title on the resumption of the tournament. Their win came on the 31st.
Staying with the 31st we mark the life and death of the first James Bond 007 on film, Sir Sean Connery. Sadly, Sean died at the age of 90. He played James bond 7 times in the films:
Dr. No (1962),
From Russia With Love (1963),
You Only Live Twice (1967),
Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
Never Say Never Again (1983).
Sean Connery was knighted in the 2000 New Year’s Honours list. Sir Sean will always be remembered for his work as the Secret Agent 007, Bond, James Bond.
A new record was reached in the Covid news on the 31st as the UK cases reached and exceeded 1 million. The 21,915 recorded cases for the last day took the UK total up to 1,011,660 cases of the disease.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson once again took to the podium at Downing Street on the 31st and announced that due to the projections of scientists that several thousand Covid deaths a day could be seen; he was going to enact second lockdown for England for 4 weeks starting on the 5th November to the 2nd December. This he said was to prevent a ‘medical and moral disaster’ for the NHS. England, he announced would then return to the tier system. There were differences between this and the first lockdown, mainly that if you were able to go to work then you should.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
November began with the much-anticipated US Presidential election, the question on everyone’s lips was will Donald J Trump be elected to serve a second term as President? It would be long after election night before we found out the answer. However, on the 4th the incumbent President declared that he had won the election, even though he had as yet received the 270 Electoral college votes that he needed to win. In fact, States were still counting their votes on the 4th and the result was very unclear!
We had to say a sad goodbye to the actor Geoffrey Palmer in the 5th. He will be most remembered for his portrayal of Lionel Hardcastle in As Time Goes By from 1992 to 2005. He had many roles across, television, radio, and stage. Blackadder fans will remember him in the final episode of Blackadder Goes Forth playing Field Marshal Douglas Haig. Geoffrey died at the age of 93.
Also, on the 5th the second lockdown of England began and ran through to the 2nd of December.
Her Majesty the Queen started the remembrance week in the UK, on the 7th, with a trip to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Westminster Abbey. The importance of this visit is 2-fold, one for her to pay her tributes to the Unknown Soldier and all those that had lost their lives serving our country during the wars, but also as Queen Elizabeth II was seen in public for the first time wearing a face covering.
Following a long week of statements from the President, and rumours and discussion around ‘illegal’ votes all coming from the President’s camp, on the 7th All the major US Television networks projected Joe R Biden had been elected the 46th President, having won the state of Pennsylvania. It meant that Kamala Harris was elected Vice-President and the first time that a woman had been in that position. It is also an important day as it marks the first time a challenger to the incumbent President has won the election, since Bill Clinton beat George H. W. Bush in 1992. Donald Trump refused to concede to Biden and vowed to challenge the result in Court, he was alleging widespread electoral fraud.
Confirmed cases of Covid-19 surpassed 50 million on the 8th, The United States accounted for 20% of all worldwide cases and therefore they have had the most cases in the world.
A big change in law came on the 9th, when Scotland banned the smacking of children with an act of law. The law made Scotland the first part of the UK to outlaw physical punishment of under-16s. The new law meant that the so-called ‘justifiable assault’ defence was no longer available. The law sought to give children the same protection from assault as adults.
As always, the UK came together on the 11th at 11am, sadly this year there were no marches or mass get togethers to remember the fallen, just varying ways of people marking the 2-minute silence, some in the towns at the monuments (socially distanced of course), others on their doorstops and balconies, and others with their own thoughts sat watching the television coverage. The important thing is that….
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, We Will Remember Them.
No review of the year would be complete without a passing comment on the death of the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe. Many people have memories of the time around his killing spree, others have grown up, heard the stories of that time. He has one of those faces that are etched on the minds of everyone because of the coverage of his case. He died from Covid-19 at the age of 74 on the 13th.
In an attempt to explore the feasibility of running Ice Hockey games COVID safely and to understand the viability of running games on a streaming-only basis, a streaming series began on the 14th for 3 weekends, with our Swindon Wildcats taking part. It was nice to be able to see the players back on the ice even if it was sadly from the comfort of our own homes. Our Swindon Wildcats results in the series were as follows:
14th Vs MK Lightning (H) 8 – 6
15th Vs Sheffield Steeldogs (A) 5 – 1
21st Vs MK Lightning (A) 4 – 5
22nd VS Sheffield Steeldogs (H) 5 – 7
Our congratulations go to everyone involved in the series, and the fans who watched and we are looking forward to seeing the boys back on the ice in the new year.
As the Streaming series was beginning, news broke of the death of entertainer Des O’Conner. Des was known as a Singer, comedian, and Television presenter. He is probably most famous for hosting Take Your Pick during the 90s. In his music career he has recorded 36 albums and had four top-ten UK singles, including a number-one hit with ‘I Pretend’, with global sales of more than 16 million records. Des died at the age of 88.
We move on to the events of the 15th of month, when although the Formula 1 season had not ended, it was declared based on the available points for the rest of the season that Lewis Hamilton had won his 7th Formula 1 World Drivers Championship. Lewis joins Michael Schumacher on 7 titles, he will be looking at to this record we are sure when the 2021 season gets underway in March.
Staying in the sporting world, where former Liverpool Football Club Goalkeeper Ray Clemence MBE (Clem) died. Ray was also an England international football goalkeeper. He is one of only 29 players to have made over 1,000 career appearances. During his time with Liverpool Football Club, he won:
3 European Cups,
5 League titles,
2 UEFA Cups,
1 UEFA Super Cup,
1 FA Cup, and
1 League Cup.
His 665th and final appearance for the club came in the victorious 1981 European Cup Final. Ray died at the age of 72.
Back to the United States we go with the saga of the US Presidential Election, that we know had already been predicted as a win for Joe Biden. On the 15th however Donald J Trump admits in a tweet that Joe Biden won the election. The story does not end there though as he later followed the tweet with a later tweet reaffirming his refusal to concede the election.
Back in the UK, and this time not a Covid-19 update, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his plans for a greener UK. As part of the plan the Government announced that sales of new petrol and diesel engine cars would be banned from 2030. The plan is for the Government to reach a net zero carbon emissions climate target by 2050. Also being banned, but this time by 2035 is the sale of hybrid vehicles.
On the 21st we return to the Covid-19 story and the announcement that came on the 21st from Downing Street that a tougher 3-tier system of restrictions were being introduced in England once the lockdown came to an end on the 2nd December.
Over in the States again, and on the 23rd The General Services Administration officially certifies President-Elect Joe Biden as the apparent winner of the presidential election and announces that a formal transition would be allowed to begin.
We return to the UK for the 24th with an announcement about the Christmas period from the leaders of all 4 nations of the UK:
England – Boris Johnson,
Scotland – Nicola Sturgeon,
Wales – Mark Drakeford, and
Northern Ireland – Arlene Foster.
In their joint announcement the leaders explained that they would allow 3 households the chance to meet up indoors for 5-days from the 23rd until the 27th December, with an additional day either side in Northern Ireland allowing for those travelling from and to the mainland. Would this plan exist come Christmas?
It has been a sad year in the year of football, with many of the legends of the game passing away, and on the 25th the
world learnt of the death of Diego Armando Maradona at the age of 60. The English will always remember Maradona for the ‘I’ goal, in the 1986 FIFA World Cup. That aside, he has to be remembered for the genius he was on the pitch.
In the month-long saga that was the US Presidential election, finally on the 26th the incumbent President, Donald J Trump acknowledged that he would leave the White House on January the 20th should the Electoral College confirm Joe Biden’s victory. This was due to be confirmed in December. The total Electoral votes were:
Joe Biden: 306
Donald Trump: 232.
Donald Trump’s acknowledgement leaves the way open for plans for Joe Biden’s inauguration which is due to take place at 12 noon on the 20th January 2021, when his 4- year term will begin.
Back in the UK, where the tiers were announced for when the lockdown in England ended, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, and Swindon, our local 3 areas, all entered in tier 2, with only Cornwall making it into the least severe Tier 1.
To end our review of November, we turn to the world of sport, and an event that whilst watching it live on the television, made our hearts sink, and fear for the life of the sportsman involved. We are discussing the Bahrain Grand Prix, in which Romain Grosjean made contact with another car, and then hurtled into a crash barrier, where his car broke in 2, causing a fireball, and the front end of his car with him in it to go through the barrier. Romain survived the incident, with a few minor burns. The controversial Halo device saved his life, of which there is no question, making us be thankful for the device that we were not completely sold on when it entered the sport a few years ago. The Halo’s worth has been proven, even if it is still an ugly addition to the cars.
Anyone can fall in love
That’s not hard to do it isn’t so clever
Anyone can fall in love
But you must make the love last forever…
Who can say
Love will stay?
It’s up to you
Don’t hide what needs showing.
Into December we arrive, the year having in some respects flown by so quickly in others was has been a year like no other. On the 2nd of December, the end of the 2nd national lockdown ended, with the country entering their respective tiers. This was not the only news for Covid-19 on the 2nd when the UK became the 1st country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine with an announcement that vaccines were to start the following week.
On the 3rd 4 people died and another was injured in a large explosion at a wastewater treatment works in Avonmouth, Bristol. 3 of the people who died were employed the company whilst the other was a contractor. The injured person’s condition is not life-threatening. The blast happened in a silo containing treated biosolids and according to the police was not terror related. Witnesses reported hearing a ‘very loud explosion’ that ‘shook buildings’ and that they saw about 10 ambulances driving to the scene.
The circumstances of the blast were continuing to be investigated at the time of writing.
On the 5th of the month Peter Aliss, the voice of Golf died. Not only was Peter the voice of the Golf he was a professional golfer in his own right winning 31 professional titles. Peter Aliss was also a television presenter, author, and golf course designer he died at the age of 89.
Also, in the world of sport and on the 5th, football fans in some areas of England were allowed back into stadiums. Prior to kick-off as had become standard since the resumption of football, the players took the knee in solidarity for the equality movement of black lives. Sadly, however numbers of fans at 2 games, Millwall and Colchester booed the taking of the knee. Some fans at Colchester did, however cheer over the top of the booing to drown out the boos. The fans were widely condemned across the world of football.
Finally, a fight in the against the Covid-19 pandemic, when early on the morning of the 8th Margaret Keenan, 90, became the first person to receive the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine as the rollout of the vaccinations began, with 81-year-old William Shakespeare from Warwickshire becoming the 2nd person to get the vaccine.
Later, in the evening of the 8th, UEFA had to suspend a Champions League group stage match between Paris St. Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir inside the opening quarter of an hour as both teams’ players abruptly left the field of play in a protest of an alleged racist incident by a match official towards Istanbul Basaksehir assistant Manager Pierre Wenbó, it was reported the 4th official referred to him as ‘the black one’.
On the 10th British actress Dame Barbara Windsor died at the age of 83. Dame Barbara was probably most famous for playing the Queen Vic landlady Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders. She was also well known for her roles in the Carry-on series of films and making the phrase ‘ooh you are naughty’ famous. She was made a Dame in the 2016 New Year’s Honours List.
Author John La Carré died on the 12th at the age of 89. He was known for his many novels including Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and The Little Drummer Girl to name but 2. Although he was known as John La Carré, his real name was David John Moore Cornwell.
In a year that was a good year for Liverpool Football Club fans, the year also saw their legends died, as we have already discovered Ray Clemence died this year, and on the 14th, Gérard Houllier died at the age of 73. Gérard was Liverpool manager from 1998 until 2004, initially as joint Manager with Roy Evans. During his spell with Liverpool, he won 6 trophies, including the treble in 2001 consisting of the FA Cup, the UEFA Cup, and the League Cup. Also, whilst manager he had to undergo heart surgery having fallen ill at half time of a match against Leeds United, he returned to the dugout 5 months later, earlier than medical advice given. He also managed the French national side, Lyon and Aston Villa amongst others.
We have to return to 3 days news of Covid-19. The 14th saw the Health Secretary Matt Hancock, told MPs that a new variant of the Covid-19 had been identified and has a higher transmissible rate, which would explain why it is spreading faster in areas of the country. The variant is showing changes to the spike protein. As of the 13th he explained there were 1,108 identified cases of this variant.
Pressure started to grow on the Government and Boris Johnson over the Christmas relaxing of the restrictions, due to the number of cases rising across the UK and the new variants of Covid-19. 2 of the leading medical journals, the Health Service Journal and British Medical Journal in a joint editorial described the decision to relax the restrictions over Christmas as a ‘rash decision’ that could ‘cost many lives’.
Finally, on the 19th Prime Minister, Boris Johnson made some announcements from the podium at Number 10. In his announcement he stated that London, South East, and the East of England were to go into a new tier-4 restriction from the following day. He explained that the rules were mostly the same as the national restrictions from November with non-essential retail, hairdressers and gyms closing. He went on to state that the Christmas relaxing was to change. In tier 4 there was to be no relaxation of the rules in tier-4 and for the rest of England the 3-house mixing would be restricted to Christmas Day only. He also explained that these were the rules, and not a target and that people should consider if their plan was strictly necessary.
Returning to the world of sport, and as is customary the BBC held their annual Sports Personality of the Year on the 20th. This year’s winner form public vote was Lewis Hamilton after his 7th Formula 1 World Drivers Championship title this year. He was followed by Liverpool FC Captain Jordan Henderson in second place following his sides Premier League win. In 3rd place by the public vote was this year’s only female contender Horse racing jockey Hollie Doyle, who had ridden over 150 winners this year.
From Sunday the evening of the 20th, 7 countries halted flights to and from the UK following the emergence if the new variant of Covid-19. These countries were:
Republic of Ireland,
In addition to this, France announced that from midnight they would be closing their border at Calais, therefore closing the Port of Dover for 48 hours, this led to a tailback of lorries on the M20. The Government on the 21st explained in an address to the nation that they were working with their counterparts and were hoping to ease this. The situation was still on-going by the 23rd, when people were questioning if this was really about the new Covid-19 variants, or whether President Macron of France was using it as an excuse to put pressure on the UK in the on-going UK-EU Trade deal negotiations, ahead of the end of the transition period at the end of the year.
In a press conference from the podium at Downing Street, on Monday 21st, the Health Secretary Matt Hancock MP announced tougher restrictions, placing more people into the new tier 4 restrictions, and raising other areas up the tier levels, for example Gloucestershire and Swindon from Tier 2 to tier 3 from Boxing day. He also announced that there had been a discovery of a second variant of the Covid-19 disease. It is believed that it originated in South Africa, and he announced that anyone who has come from South Africa should now self-isolate immediately.
On Christmas Eve, after 1645 days of uncertainty, Parliamentary wrangling, and disagreements, following the ‘in/out’ referendum, a Brexit trade deal with the EU was done. This deal was done with just a week to spare before the UK left the EU in a no-deal situation which would have seen the UK trade under World Trade Organisation rules. MPs were recalled from their Christmas Recess to debate the deal, with the debate to take place on the 30th.
After weeks of discussion online, 6pm on Christmas Eve arrived with people once again gathering outside their houses, this time to shake bells to welcome the journey of Father Christmas, adding to the magical experience of the day for children.
Christmas Day arrived, and although for many this year it was going to be a very different day for many spending the day alone, or in their mini family households. Some people spent the day using the allowance of the relaxation of the restrictions, with either 2 or 3 households mixing depending on which country of the UK they were in. Originally the plan had been for this to be across 5 days however the Government had reduced this to just Christmas Day. However, it was spent families up and down the country made the most of the day.
As has become a tradition over recent years, along with Magic Light Pictures, the BBC produced a version of a Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler book. This year to get the Magic Light Pictures was Zog and the Flying Doctors. This story saw Zog the dragon transporting ‘doctors’ Princess Pearl and Gadabout to patients. The story was narrated by Lenny Henry.
Zog was not the only children’s book to get a TV show this Christmas Day, as Channel 4 once again got in on the act and produced Quentin Blake’s Clown narrated by Helena Bonham Carter. The charming story sees a much-loved toy clown discarded with other toys. Clown’s journey takes him through the helter-skelter streets, dodging scary dogs and even scarier adults. Finally, Clown finds a child who will accept him for all his imperfections. Together on Christmas Eve they set out to rescue Clown’s friends. A perfect heart-warming story for Christmas night!
Onwards to the 26th we go which saw the new restrictions come into force from the announcement on the 21st. The restrictions saw Sussex, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, parts of Essex not yet in the highest tier, Waverley in Surrey, and Hampshire, with the exception of the New Forest rise into the toughest tier. Locally, Swindon and Gloucestershire were risen to tier 3, while Wiltshire remained in tier 2.
Sadly, on the 29th the UK recorded its highest rate of cases of 53,135, gladly the number of new cases fell the following day, but the death rate on the 30th was the highest since the peak of the pandemic in April. The death rate was up 175% on the previous day with the deaths being 981.
There was good news to wake up to on the 30th with the news that the UK vaccine regulators had approved a 2nd vaccine approved, this made the UK the first country to approve 2 separate vaccines. This vaccine is the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. This follows in the footsteps of the earlier approved Pfizer vaccine. The advantage of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is that it is easier to store, and therefore easier to get into doctors’ surgeries and the like. It was also announced that second doses do not need to be given after 3 weeks as of now, but after 12 weeks, this means that more people can receive their first dose.
In the House of Commons, Health Secretary, Matt Hancock announced the findings of the review of the tier restrictions, and the news was not good with Gloucestershire, and Swindon rising to tier 4 and Wiltshire rising to tier 3. As well as many other areas of England rising up the tier levels meaning most of the country, as of the 31st,are in the highest tier of restrictions.
Also, on the 30th, the Brexit Trade Deal was enacted into law. The House of Commons voted for the deal by 521 to 73 votes, allowing it to pass to the House of Lords. The Lords passed the deal at about 10:30 in the evening, allowing the deal, now in a form of a bill to receive Royal Assent at 12:25AM on the 31st. It means that the UK fully leaves the EU with a new trading arrangement at 11:00pm tonight (31st December 2020).
Finally, for December we take a brief look at the New Year’s honours list. As always it is released on the 30th, this year being the most ethnically diverse. There is a knighthood for Lewis Hamilton, making him a Sir, in the year he won his 7th World Title, Former footballer Jimmy Greaves and musician Craig David have been awarded MBEs. Actress Sheila Hancock becomes a Dame. However, this year’s list is overwhelmed by people who have done extraordinary things year through the pandemic.
As of 30th December:
So as 2020 draws to a close, we hope that you have enjoyed our review of the year.
We are sure you will agree a lot has happened in 2020, although not all of it has been good, we do however look forward to seeing what may happen in 2021.
In the meantime….
We would like to wish
All our customers, suppliers, family and friends,
A VERY Happy New Year!