Charity book celebrates local heroes who helped during pandemic

'Our humanity and community spirit shone in the darkness and I thought it was important to celebrate that' says author Anna James
Photo: Jason Bryant
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Inspired by Shakespeare’s “and so shines a good deed in a weary world”, an author has donated her time to produce a commemorative book celebrating the hard work and kindness seen across the UK during the COVID pandemic.

Anna James spent more than six months interviewing key workers, everyday heroes and familiar faces as well as charities and organisations and collating the stories and photos of their ‘good deeds’.

She has self-published the 350+ page coffee-table style book, called Covid Kindness: UK 2020, to celebrate their efforts and to raise money for the NHS and other good causes.

The book contains plenty of local heroes – both famous names and community champions.

There’s Jason Baird, the ‘Stockport Spiderman’ who entertained families and raised money for the NHS during lockdown.

Then there’s personal stories from Kendal Bradley, who had little baby Nell at the beginning of the first lockdown at the Royal Oldham, 99-year-old COVID survivor Rita Reynolds from Bramhall, and Angela Nicoll, a paediatric nurse from Stockport.

Matt Kelly, the Wigan author of the poem Our Heroes which was read by Christopher Eccleston on The One Show and has raised money for the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, also tells his story, as do several other local community heroes who helped with everything from food distribution to behind-the-scenes hospital maintenance.

More well-known faces include Manchester comedian Justin Moorhouse, who volunteered with a local food bank as well as helping with giving people lifts to hospital and picking up prescriptions.

And West Didsbury-based actor and Cold Feet star John Thomson reveals what it’s like filming a TV show during a pandemic.

“I desperately wanted to do something to help but didn’t know how to be useful – I’m a bit squeamish with anything medical and always get lost, even with SatNav, so I’d have been no good at volunteering to help people or deliver things,” said Anna.

“After a few sleepless nights, I decided to stick with what I’m good at and to create a special compilation of this most unusual moment in our history.

“I would make one of my commemorative books as my small gift to the national effort.

“2020 was an unprecedented year with monumental challenges and heart-breaking sadnesses but amongst that, there was also exceptional hard work, adaptability and kindness.

“Our humanity and community spirit shone in the darkness and I thought it was important to celebrate that, so we’ve got something to look back on and be proud of.

“I also thought it was important to record some of the things we were all seeing and experiencing – in years to come, when this is hopefully far behind us, will we remember the rainbows?

“That people joined forces in their thousands to make masks and scrubs for the NHS? Will we remember that we clapped outside, every Thursday night?

“That whole towns and cities were deserted and that shops ran out of toilet roll?

“I wanted to document some of that to help us remember; as a social history record for us to show our grandchildren, and for them to show theirs.

“I am humbled to have become the caretaker of this most amazing collection of stories from all these everyday heroes who share what they did to help the country and each other, which are heart-warming and heart-wrenching in equal measures.

“It’s probably the book none of us would ever have wanted but perhaps the one we all need, to remind ourselves what a kind and generous bunch we can be.”

Covid Kindness: UK 2020 is available to order at amazon.co.uk/Covid-Kindness-UK. All profits go to NHS Charities Together and other good causes.

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