She described it as a ‘really poignant day’, adding: “I feel really grateful that I’m actually still here today because we have lost a lot of people both family and friends. It’s a time to reflect on what everybody has been through.”
Prayers were read out by Rev Tom Robson, vicar of All Saints in Wick and Father Mark Williams from St Mary’s in Littlehampton.
Meanwhile former district councillor and violinist Inna Erskine performed ‘over the rainbow’ from the Wizard of Oz for attendees.
The event heard from several members of the public about their experiences and reflections on the past year ranging from physical volunteering to setting up social media pages to help people feel more connected, to changing jobs and simply coping during such extraordinary times.
A common theme was about the challenges children had faced and how well they had coped with things such as home schooling and missing out on seeing their friends and wider family members.
Arun’s chief executive Nigel Lynn mentioned three positive themes he felt had come out of the past year: a much more caring society, sustainability and shopping local and thirdly the importance of family time.
While two of his children are in his 20s, he has a six and an eight-year-old still at home. He described how lockdown had given him the opportunity to spend more time with his kids and had explored places locally they hadn’t known existed before now.
James Walsh, leader at Arun, focused on the contribution of not only council staff at Arun and West Sussex County Council, but front-line workers ranging from doctors and nurses, shop workers, transport workers, teachers, carers and volunteers.
He praised Arun staff for their ‘astonishing’ efforts keeping the council going whilst largely working from home and more widely gave an ‘enormous thank you to those in our community who have kept us going’.