Support your local team in Derry - whether in football or in business

Local satirists at ‘Pure Derry’ have come up trumps again with their story of the local Derry woman, Leah-Aine, who didn’t leave the house for almost two weeks and was crowned the winner of the annual ‘quietest Christmas’ competition.

Stephen Kelly
Stephen Kelly

It must have been a tough battle for Leah-Aine as there is no doubt that thanks to Christmas and New Year’s Eve falling on weekends many of us enjoyed an extended break.

But many didn’t have the choice to lounge around.

The extraordinary spread of the Omicron Covid variant meant that many family Christmases were spent isolating or in bed.

As many as 1 in 10 people in the City diagnosed with the virus in such a short time should be a matter of huge concern for us all.

It also meant those who help protect us and care for those who are struck with the virus had the busiest Christmas imaginable. We should be grateful to those who put their own lives on hold so the rest of us can enjoy ours.

We also should also be grateful to those elsewhere who provide our food, keep the lights on, get deliveries to our doors and who served us in retail, hospitality and entertainment who sacrificed their own downtime as we enjoyed some fun times.

A special word too for unsung heroes like Declan Moore of Claudes Café and his colleagues, who once again opened their doors and fed families for free across the City, and the many other volunteers in a host of projects who did similar.

You see, we take so much for granted and miss the largely invisible army of people in public services, utilities, business and volunteering who turn up every day and throughout the day to make the rest of us safe, warm and nourished.

We’re one integrated and interdependent City and we take that for granted.

The New Year is a time to reflect and refocus.

A time to set some goals and make some commitments to ourselves and perhaps others.

If you’re struggling for some ideas, maybe these three could be a good start?

Look out for each other.

The virus is running rampant so like never before we need to follow the public health advice to protect our most vulnerable.

Small actions and being responsible will ensure most of us will see and enjoy next Christmas.

Also, the spread of the virus means that many, mostly those on lower pay, are missing a full wage as they are ill or having to isolate just at the time when they are wondering how to pay for last Christmas. Stop the spread and we can keep as many as possible in work and get many more back to work.

Shop local.

This has been a horrendous year for our retailers, hospitality and entertainment businesses, their supply chains and those who depend on them for a wage.

They need our support so they can see it through.

Support your local team. Not just Ruaidhrí Higgins and the Candystripes but celebrate those people who we never see who make life safe and enjoyable for the rest of us.

It’s probably fair to say most of us were glad to see the back of 2021.

Let’s do what we can to make sure that come next New Year’s Eve, we’re not saying the same.

Stephen Kelly is CEO of Manufacturing NI.