From the editor's desk: Reflections on the week's news in Maldon
By The Editor
20th Sep 2020 | Local News
As a news journalist the natural instinct is to get a story out there as quickly as possible. Arguably, the reporter who is first with the news is the one whose work will be most read.
But sometimes, a deeper insight into what lies behind a news item is worth waiting for.
It was late last Sunday when I read a Care Quality Commission (CQC) report that found a Heybridge care home to be outstanding. The success at The Firstlings in keeping Covid-19 at bay despite taking in three new residents during lockdown was mentioned in glowing terms by the CQC, as well as the care provided for the elderly people who live there.
When I rang the home first thing on Monday, I was kindly promised a call back by the manager later in the day. I had enough to write the story with the report at hand, but this time I decided to wait. I am so glad I did.
Speaking to Firstlings manager Tina Bentley that afternoon turned into one of the highlights of my week. It wasn't just the pride in every single member of her staff that struck me – and it certainly did – but the absolute passion she felt for her work and for keeping the residents safe. How can I convey in mere words the full meaning of the slight cracking of her voice as she spoke about the efforts of all the staff during the pandemic to protect the vulnerable? She described in brief some of the steps they had taken, yet her tone told me something much more. It told of the very real struggle, the faith put into the measures taken, the hope that all would be protected and the strength of the love and care given to every member of the home that Tina described as 'a family unit'.
The week progressed with its usual highs and lows, of course. On Tuesday, I attended a virtual meeting of Maldon Town Council where a plan to have the shops open late on the evening of the Christmas lights 'switch on' was discussed. It was clear that the hope is that in the pandemic situation – and provided there is not another lockdown – it would be a way of supporting local businesses.
Councillors then turned to the matter of Remembrance Sunday. Whatever anyone's view of what should or shouldn't happen, one thing was clear in this year that marks the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War - everyone wanted to do the best thing possible. As with the struggle the Government now faces, no move will please everyone. There are no easy answers, but whatever anyone's view of the decision to ask people to pay their respects from home it is impossible to get away from the sadness of the situation. The very people who in a different time we would all most want to be there to witness the gratitude the community feels, the surviving veterans themselves, are among those we most need to protect and keep safe, away from crowds and possible infection.
There was uplifting news, too, in the Plume Academy achieving a 96 per cent attendance rate at the start of the new school term. When I went along to the school in August and met some of the teenagers catching up on missed work at a summer school put on specially to help them, I had been struck by what Covid-19 has meant for them. It would be easy, from the viewpoint of an adult, to underestimate the impact; not just the disruption to their young lives, but the feelings of fear and the trauma of being separated from their friends, teachers and the everyday life that they knew. Their joy at being back was obvious.
So with all the national news on the pandemic turning in a direction that surely nobody wants to see, I was glad indeed when one of my final interviews of the week gave me hope. Teresa Mecoy, owner of The Crystal Shack in Maldon, opened her shop just nine days before lockdown. I was fascinated to know what had spurred her on and kept her enthusiasm and hope going in such a situation. Little did I expect Teresa's back story and the full nature of the challenges she has had to deal with in her life. You can read about Teresa in this week's Up Close interview, but suffice to say that I found her utterly inspirational.
And in everything she said, one thing was clear – the importance of hope.