Swanage Mayor hopes for brighter 2021 as he thanks those who’ve been supportive of others

In his Christmas message, Swanage Mayor, Mike Bonfield paid tribute to the town’s key workers, volunteers and residents for all pulling together over the past 10 months.

In his address to the congregation at the Swanage Town Carol Service on Sunday 20th December 2020, he admitted that when lockdown was first announced on the 23rd March he thought, like others, we would be back to some form of normality within a few months but said how wrong we all were!

Swanage Mayor Mike Bonfield

“Escaped the worst elements of lockdown”

Councillor Mike Bonfield said:

“But despite the dark times I think it is important to reflect on some of the ways that Swanage has escaped the worst elements of lockdown.

“We were so lucky with the weather during the spring, being able to enjoy our daily exercise in the amazing area that we are fortunate to live in. It must have been so different for those living in high rise flats in the cities.

“In July, when the lockdown restrictions were eased many coastal resorts were inundated with those traveling to the seaside. We can all remember the scenes from Durdle Door and Bournemouth, some locals in these and other areas started to feel uncomfortable due to the masses and many not abiding to the government guidelines.

“I believe that Swanage also saw record numbers of visitors, but they were generally well behaved, many using the town’s green spaces such as Prince Albert Gardens, and although the beach was busy most were keeping to social distancing.”

Icon at St Mary's Church Swanage Town Carol Concert

Support those in need

The mayor continued that there are many issues that will continue to be a concern for the foreseeable future including loneliness, mental health and well being and asked for us all to support those in need.

He concluded by mentioning positive news:

“Now that a vaccine is being rolled out, we will hopefully be able to see a brighter 2021. Please have the best Christmas that you can, and I look forward to sharing with you a better year to come.”

Team rector of Swanage and Studland, John Mann

Live streamed on YouTube

The Swanage Town Carol Service usually fills St Mary’s Church but this year it was a ticket only event to allow for social distancing but the service was live streamed on YouTube which allowed hundreds of people to join in from home.

It was led by the team rector of Swanage and Studland, John Mann, with other church leaders from across Swanage all contributing.

The church wardens worked hard to ensure that all the Covid guidance was followed which enabled the Swanage Town Carol Concert to be one of the few festive fixtures that has gone ahead this year – a remarkable achievement in itself!

Swanage Town Carol Service St Mary's Church

Full text of the mayor’s message

“As we approach what I have always believed to be a time for us all to get together and celebrate, we know that this year we must think carefully before joining with others. However, this year has shown us more than ever how well the Swanage community works together, through good times and bad.

“I start by giving the towns thanks to all those involved with the NHS and our emergency services who have all been extremely stretched this year. Also, our care home workers, teachers, and everyone in a caring role. And to all of those who have kept services running, those who we see such as our binmen and grounds staff, but also those in the background working to keep life as normal as possible.

“I have been so pleased at the way we have all pulled together during the past 10 months, our fellow residents who have been so supportive during this crisis, from individuals to neighbours and organisations. So many volunteers, for example Swanage Food-bank, Swanage Coronavirus Support Group, Link Visiting, the Citizens Advice Bureau and Swanage Senior Forum to mention just a few.

“Nor must we forget our local business community, many of whom have faced great uncertainty but have adapted the way they work to make sure their much needed goods and services remain available.

“I thank everyone for what they have done and are continuing to do, for the support they have given to family members, friends and the wider community.

“It seems so different not being able to join in with the singing this evening, but this does allow us a chance to think about the things that have been going on this year. In particular, our thoughts and prayers go out to those who have lost loved ones

“I am sure that last Christmas no one had any idea of what was to come. Even when we were locked down on the 23rd March there was a general feeling that we would be back to some form of normality within a few months – how wrong we all were!

“But despite the dark times I think it is important to reflect on some of the ways that Swanage has escaped the worst elements of lockdown.

“We were so lucky with the weather during the spring, being able to enjoy our daily exercise in the amazing area that we are fortunate to live in. It must have been so different for those living in high rise flats in the cities.

“In July, when the lockdown restrictions were eased many coastal resorts were inundated with those traveling to the seaside. We can all remember the scenes from Durdle Door and Bournemouth, some locals in these and other areas started to feel uncomfortable due to the masses and many not abiding to the government guidelines.

“I believe that Swanage also saw record numbers of visitors, but they were generally well behaved, many using the town’s green spaces such as Prince Albert Gardens, and although the beach was busy most were keeping to social distancing.

“As we moved from summer to autumn the weather remained good and it was evident that we continued to see more than the normal number of visitors for the time of year, helping local businesses to recover some of their earlier losses.

“Dorset has been one of the lowest areas for infection but, of course, none of this means we can start to relax. Due to the demographics of our area, we must all continue to be vigilant and support each other.

“We have residents who are still worried about the situation, some who are still not wanting to mix, and this is causing problems with loneliness, Mental Health, and wellbeing. These issues will continue to be a concern for the foreseeable future, so please we must all do all we can to support those in need.

“Please continue the good work that you have been doing. Please think about what we can do to help families who are unable to join in this festive season, and who might not be able to celebrate at all.

“I am sure that things will improve if we all use common sense, follow the guidelines, and think of others. Now that a vaccine is being rolled out, we will hopefully be able to see a brighter 2021. Please have the best Christmas that you can, and I look forward to sharing with you a better year to come.”

St Mary's Church in Swanage.

Further information

More about the Christmas services in any of the town’s churches can be found on the Swanage Churches Together website

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