Sussex student launches her chronicle of the pandemic year

A remarkable year – chronicled as a weekly online column for the Chichester Observer and its sister titles across Sussex – is captured in a fascinating new book which will be launched at this year’s Festival of Chichester.

Jenny Bathurst
Jenny Bathurst

Jenny Bathurst who lives in Yapton, was just coming up to A levels when the first lockdown hit. The Chichester Observer asked her to record her thoughts and feelings every week for the its website and the websites of its sister titles across Sussex.

Jenny, who is now now studying journalism at the University of Brighton (Eastbourne campus), has now pulled the columns together in one volume: Lockdown Observed: Becoming an Adult Without Leaving the House, self-published and available from Amazon.

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She will launch the book in The Conference Hall, Chichester College on June 30 at 7pm – the very room in which she should have sat her A levels before the pandemic cancelled them in March 2020.

“At the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, I felt extremely hopeless. With my A levels cancelled and the fragility of many constants in my life, I had no idea how I was going to remain optimistic. One month later I was invited to write a column for Sussex Newspapers, documenting my thoughts and experiences as a student in the midst of a global pandemic. What I thought would be maybe two or three articles has now turned into nearly 60, and now just under 50 of these I am publishing as a book. I suppose that I could almost call Lockdown Observed a glorified diary, detailing the events of the pandemic through my eyes as they happened. 50 per cent of all profits that I make from the book I will be donating to Freedom4GirlsUK, a charity incredibly close to my heart that provides period products and education to those in poverty here and abroad.

“Being able to publish a book, which has been a long-term ambition of mine, whilst also raising some money for a brilliant cause is a great privilege. Due to the book being a compilation of pieces that I had written over the past year and a bit, I definitely feel that I got the tricky bit out of the way! Although editing and compiling Lockdown Observed was no easy feat, it was so interesting to read back over everything I had written and documented in a year that was exceptionally difficult for us all.

“None of us found 2020-21 a walk in the park, and I think that this book details experiences that many will be able to relate to: whether it’s the fear of the unknown or the frustration at countless disappointments. My hope is that readers will of course be able to enjoy the book now but also in years to come to reminisce on this bizarre and extraordinary time.

“I consider myself really fortunate to have published a book before turning 20, something I definitely didn’t see coming! I am really passionate about writing and I hope that this book won’t be my last, but if/ when another one comes around it will probably be just as unexpected! As a student journalist, my work centres around non-fiction, but the idea of one day publishing a work of fiction would be fantastic. I am a first-time author, and this is all incredibly new to me! Self-publishing was a real test of resilience and time management whilst simultaneously sitting university exams, so I am so pleased that I have managed to make this book a reality. There were times when I wondered if I’d ever get it finished, but thankfully I did! I’m really excited to see the book become a reality and not just a picture on a screen.”

Tickets will be £3 each, with 100 per cent of the profits being donated to Freedom4GirlsUK. Tickets from the Festival of Chichester website: “Although this is my first published book, writing has always been something I have really enjoyed since I was at school.

"Lockdown Observed is a collection of my thoughts and experiences throughout lockdown all in written form, and whilst editing the book I have treasured the opportunity to read back what I was feeling and how I chose to write about it. I believe the act of documenting our thoughts is so important – I never knew that when I wrote my first article in 2020 that it would feature at the beginning of my debut book, so you never know where your writing may take you!”