As someone who came through the war, I was proud to have been raised by the greatest generation. They were wonderful brave people and I never thought I would see the likes of them again. This pandemic has proved me wrong.

Out of this virus nightmare has emerged wonderful people and it is an honour to be in their company. It is humbling to see the bravery of those in the front line trying to keep us alive and I thank them all.

But there are also thousands of people who have emerged from the shadows to help the elderly and the infirm and they are Britain’s hidden army. They quietly go about their tasks mostly unseen but they are vital in the fight against this evil foe. They are the neighbours, the friends and even the strangers whom people like me would be lost without. It is not only age that puts us at risk; many of us have underlying conditions that threaten our safety and it is a worry to us all.

Those who help us make light of their kindness but they do not always appreciate their value. The cold hard truth is that without their help many of us would be stone dead, we simply cannot fight this virus on our own. So I thank them all. Many of them are young people like Cher with families to care for and their kindness has a beauty of its own. So many people are offering to help us and I hope they will never underestimate our gratitude.

By sticking together we will defeat this virus and we will come out of it better people. If there’s one thing we have all learned it is you never appreciate the beauty of a hug until the day comes when you can no longer give it. Take care.

Tom Benfield

Buckhurst Hill