It’s been almost a year since the pandemic was pushed to the forefront of the national consciousness.

In Wiltshire, by mid-March council meetings were cancelled, schools across the county began to close, and the local elections were postponed.

And on March 16 the country went into the first of three lockdowns and Covid-19 had gripped every facet of our society.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: The headlines from last MarchThe headlines from last March

Since then Wiltshire Council has been forced to tackle massive blackholes in the budget caused by the pandemic and confronted over the decision to run consultations and has shuffled much of its top-flight positions.

On March 19 last year the Gazette reminded readers to keep calm and carry on as panic buying gripped national news outlets, and at this time we said it was likely that over 70s would be asked to self-isolate.

“The Gazette will carry on doing what we’ve always done – shine a light on what’s happening in our communities and hold power to account,” our comment said.

The first ever volunteer registration day for the Covid response group in Devizes took place on March 23. Love Devizes has gone from strength to strength to support the community in the time since.

Member Jonathan Hunter said: “In that time many people have volunteered in all sorts of ways to help and support residents who are vulnerable or needing some practical help.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Jonathan HunterJonathan Hunter

"Every single set of helping hands came with their own personal story and provided amazing support.

“Every volunteer brings their own experience and set of unique skills which has culminated in well over 6000 occasions of support for people with practical needs or to those who needed more complex support.

“Help has also been given to those residents who appreciated a compassionate and friendly phone call, a lift for a medical appointment or vaccination and for those residents who just needed hope at a time where there was fear and uncertainty. Fast forward to 2021 and we are still here providing all-sorts of help and hope to many people.

"Every single volunteer no matter what type of help they have given has been incredibly kind and supportive.”

Throughout the pandemic we have written about the impact on our communities coronavirus has had, and highlighted the incredible work of community groups supporting other residents in need.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Kate BlackburnKate Blackburn

Director of public health at Wiltshire Council, Kate Blackburn, said: “This is certainly 12 months that we will never forget. The pandemic has completely transformed the way we live and brought in restrictive measures we never would have imagined, and a vaccine rollout that is monumental in history.

“As we take a moment to reflect on the last year, my thoughts particularly go to those who have tragically lost loved ones as a result of Covid-19.

“I want to also thank people for playing their part to reduce the spread of the virus throughout the pandemic. I know it has been a huge challenge to make these sacrifices and keep going but we have managed to keep rates of Covid-19 in Wiltshire relatively low because of this great combined effort, so thank you.”

Responding to the needs of residents, last March the council set up the Wiltshire Wellbeing Hub which chief executive, Terence Herbert describes as an unmitigated success that has changed how the council will interact with residents in the future.

“One of the elements of learning from this is that we will be continuing with the Wellbeing Hub post-response to recovery and it will become business as usual,” Mr Herbert said.

Since its inception it has received over 40,000 contacts from residents and working with redeployed staff and community volunteer groups, the hub has managed to help collect prescriptions for clinically vulnerable residents and deliver over 14,000 food parcels.

Chippenham MP Michelle Donelan has also issued a message to mark a year since lockdown was imposed.

She asid: “When all this is a distant memory, we can look back with an enormous sense of pride in how we have dealt with the pandemic, from the efforts of Captain Tom to the sheer resilience of our communities who have hastily pulled together volunteer groups to seek out those vulnerable and isolating and have sought out new ways to communicate and stay in touch with friends and loved ones.”