Sunderland residents celebrate new book capturing life in Covid lockdown

Ryhope residents have been celebrating the launch of their new book which captures life in the village during the Covid pandemic.

Thursday, 9th September 2021, 12:55 pm

Entitled ‘Resiliant Ryhope Lockdown Life’, the book contains poems, illustrations and personal accounts from the village’s residents depicting and encapsulating the trials and tribulations of life during the Covid crisis.

The book was the idea of Ryhope Community Centre manager, Paula Hunt, and was penned and illustrated by author Liz Million. During the first lockdown, Liz released a social media post asking for people to submit their poems and accounts of lockdown life and was inundated with responses.

She said: “The power of words is incredible and I remember reading all the poems and accounts and it made you realise the people of Ryhope were feeling the same pain as everyone else and it really showed people’s resilience, which is where we got the title from.

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Liz Million and Ryhope Community Association centre manger Paula Hunt with their newly launched book, Resilient Ryhope Lockdown Life.

"The launch has been really emotional and some people got upset when recounting the poems and accounts they wrote during the pandemic.

"Hopefully the worst is behind us and people are really appreciative of being able to do normal things like meeting up with each other.”

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Paula enlisted the help arts company, The Cultural Spring, who provided funding.

Author Liz Million with some of the Ryhope residents who contributed to the book.

She said: “This has been such a significant event in human history and there was so much going on in the village that I thought it was important to document how everyone worked together.”

The book runs in chronological order, starting with Boris Johnson’s directive to stay at home, covering each of the three lockdowns and ending with the hope of the vaccine programme.

However, the main focus of the book captures the contributions of local people who played a pivotal role.

One of those was trumpet player Rob Mcburnie, 44, who said: “It started on April 23 during the first lockdown when people were taking part in the Clap for Your Carers initiative. I decided to go out and play Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

"It got such a response that I ended up doing it every week and we even raised £1,400 for St Benedict Hospice. My wife saw Liz’s post and decided to write an account and send it in.”

Like many church leaders, St Paul’s vicar, Rev David Chadwick, 48, took his service online with his parishioners highlighting the supportive role it played during the darkest days of the pandemic peak.

Rev Chadwick said: “I thinks it’s good to chronicle how such adversity really highlighted people’s generosity and the book has really shown how the pandemic brought the community together.

"I was particularly struck by a poem by St Paul’s Primary School pupil, Isabella Davison, called Sick of this Weather. It was about the gloomy weather with no sunshine but the fact the sun was still there which gave promise of better times ahead.”

Also covered in the book is the role of Chris Watson Hope and her daughter Deborah Jefferson who created a Teddy Bear trail on the village green.

Chris said: “The pandemic has really brought everyone closer together.”

Other key contributions to included teenagers writing about the stress of exam cancellations and the selfless exploits of St Patrick’s school pupil Blossom Todd who on VE Day packed up her dolls pram to deliver food and gifts to vulnerable residents.

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