Penny Plimmer & Martine Bolton
This book is dedicated to the amazing people,charities and organisations whose stories feature within these pages, and to the everyday superheroes all around the world who went ‘above and beyond the call of duty’ to support their friends, families, neighbours and communities through the difficult lockdown period.
It was 5am on a serene spring morning, and there was a sense of peace and calm at Emsworth harbour. The air was clean and fresh, the sun was breaking over the horizon, and a brand-new day was about to dawn.
On the quayside, a blue and white fishing boat, the ‘Carly D’, rocked gently against her moorings. A family of swans floated lazily past, barely noticing the solitary, unimposing man working at the stern of the boat, unloading his catch.
There was something about this scene – its peacefulness and depiction of a simple way of life.
To an outsider looking in, it would look like a scene from a postcard… tranquil and perfect. But there was more going on here than met the eye. In truth, there was nothing perfect about this day. Pete, our unimposing fisherman, was about to lose his livelihood. You see, five months earlier, his life had come crashing down around him. His wife, Chantelle – his business partner and the mother of his beautiful daughter – had become very ill, undergoing 12 gruelling hours of major brain surgery.
Pete had sacrificed everything at the time to be by her side throughout her recovery, and this seemingly perfect day in spring marked the five-month anniversary of that day. Financially, the family were desperate, but there was light at the end of the tunnel. Chantelle was on the road to recovery, and the end was in sight, then Covid-19 hit like a tsunami along with the news that the nation was heading into lockdown. The family were facing a second potential disaster…
The fish markets were all shut, and there was nowhere from which they could sell their fish. In the space of a day, their business was brought to its knees.
But this is not a story about illness, crisis or desperation. It’s a story of resilience, resourcefulness, and service – one of many that emerged during the Coronavirus pandemic. Stories of love and hope that deserved to be recorded, shared and appreciated.
History has shown that in challenging times we can rely on our ingenuity, our love for our neighbours, and our collective spirit to ensure that, together, we prevail.
Pete and Chantelle decided they would face the lockdown head-on. They rolled up their sleeves and came up with a plan – a new way to serve the community, keep their business alive and feed their family.
Luckily, the demand for fresh, wholesome produce hadn’t gone away. So, Pete went back to sea, and Chantelle went back to work.
Sometimes they sold the fish at cost price to those who were shielding. Other times, they gave it away to those in need. Over the coming weeks they delivered to over 400 families, and always with a smile and a wave through the window.
The pandemic raised an interesting question for photographer Penny Plimmer and author Martine Bolton. How could they tell the stories and honour the heroes of lockdown, so that the benefits from the time, and the lessons learned, would be remembered?
That was the question that inspired the duo to create this book:
This beautiful book of over 60 inspiring stories and striking black and white photographs, captures the highs and the lows of lockdown, encompassing the whole gamut of human emotions.
Readers will also get to meet Bill, a videographer from Port Solent. Faced with the devastating loss of his older brother, and his pain at not being able to attend the funeral, Bill fought hard not to allow the sadness to engulf him. His story tells of how he used the experience to look at his life and priorities, and made some significant changes.
Then there is Mandy, from Southampton, whose work helping older people get their affairs in order stopped overnight. Within days of the start of lockdown, she found herself arranging the funeral of one of her long-term clients. A few weeks later she was asked by his family to arrange a funeral for his wife, who’d died in her care home, and whom Mandy had never met.
Big-hearted Mandy had spent time researching the story of the lady’s life, pouring over old photographs and newspaper cuttings, and speaking to the lady’s friends to piece everything together. Mandy brought dignity and reverence to the funeral – a strange affair, as she was the only person in physical attendance.
The book includes stories of key workers on the front-line, including the NHS. The University of Portsmouth students who volunteered at Queen Alexander Hospital, including student nurses Diana and Charles, and paramedic student James, who put their own safety at risk to help others.
And, this is what makes this book so important.
“Lest We Forget” is a phrase we usually associate with those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in war, that we remember those who lost their lives to protect our freedom and liberty.
This book not only asks that we remember those that stepped up to help the greater good, but that we also remember the positives that came out of the time. The peace and quiet we experienced; the clear waters and skies; the way nature seemed to thrive; communities coming together and bonding like never before; people helping one another; the explosion of creativity; the transformations of all kinds that took place.