How the region marked day of reflection for lives lost during coronavirus pandemic

  • Report by ITV News Meridian's Kit Bradshaw

A minute's silence has taken place across the South East to remember all those who have died during the coronavirus pandemic.

A national day of reflection is being marked today (23 March) on the one year anniversary since the UK went into lockdown, and everyone was told to 'stay at home'.

At Winchester Cathedral, a large green cross was laid on the floor. Candles were also lit, with prayers made for the bereaved and their families.

Firefighters from West Sussex Fire and Rescue stood to observe the silence outside the fire station in Chichester.

West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service observe the minute's silence. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Meanwhile outside Poole Hospital, staff gathered for their minute's silence. At the height of the pandemic, University Hospitals Dorset NHS Trust had more than 400 coronavirus patients. It is now dealing with fewer than 10 patients.

Watch: ITV News Meridian's Richard Slee reports from the west of the region

As part of the day's reflections, candles were lit at the Church of St Denys in Rotherfield, with the bell tolling in memory of the more than 126,000 lives that have so far been lost to the pandemic.

Candles lit at the Church of St Denys in Rotherfield Credit: ITV News Meridian

The Prince of Wales has backed the day of national reflection, organised by the end-of-life charity Marie Curie.

In a recorded message, Charles, who is a patron of the charity, said: “We have all been inspired by the resourcefulness we have witnessed, humbled by the dedication shown by so many, and moved, beyond words, by the sacrifices we have seen.

More than 250 organisations are supporting the day of reflection, including 82 leaders from religious groups and cross-party politicians, care organisations, charities, businesses, emergency services, public sector bodies and community groups.

Watch: ITV News Meridian's Chlöe Oliver reports from the Thames Valley

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who observed the silence privately, said: “The last 12 months has taken a huge toll on us all, and I offer my sincere condolences to those who have lost loved ones.

“Today, the anniversary of the first lockdown, is an opportunity to reflect on the past year – one of the most difficult in our country’s history."

Credit: Marie Curie

“We should also remember the great spirit shown by our nation over this past year. We have all played our part, whether it’s working on the front line as a nurse or carer, working on vaccine development and supply, helping to get that jab into arms, home schooling your children, or just by staying at home to prevent the spread of the virus.

“It’s because of every person in this country that lives have been saved, our NHS was protected, and we have started on our cautious road to easing restrictions once and for all.”