Why Worthing, Littlehampton and Shoreham town centres reopening made me emotional: One Thing or a Mother

As I was dismantling my vacuum cleaner to clean the filter the other day, my phone buzzed with a WhatsApp alert.

Wednesday, 14th April 2021, 5:07 pm

It was a group message from my good friends Matt and James who moved to America a few years ago.

As I was in the midst of another humdrum lockdown day, James was sitting around the pool in his new apartment complex in Florida, while Matt was working in LA with a famous pop star.

I know you shouldn’t covet what other people have, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t just a teensy bit (read a lot!) jealous of their seemingly glamorous lives.

Seeing people out and about in our towns again made me feel very happy. Picture: Eddie Mitchell

As I threatened to never talk to them again, they reminded me that Covid life hasn’t really been a picnic for them either. They were living in San Francisco until recently, and the city had been under a really tough lockdown for months.

Just like here, they had been stuck at home without seeing friends for ages, and still have no realistic prospect of when they might be able to come back to the UK to visit family.

Where I’m going with this incredibly long-winded anecdote (sorry, this column has been a bit of a struggle this week – I blame staying up late last night to watch Traces, which I’ve just discovered on iPlayer), is that no matter how much it might seem that other people are faring better than you in lockdown, we’ve all had our own struggles and could do with a break!

Which is why I’m soooooo excited that we’ve hit the lockdown highway again this week, and we’ve driven one step closer to our final destination – freedom!

Katherine sans mobile. A rare sight, apparently.

As the pictures started flooding into the virtual Herald and Gazette office of people out and about in our high streets shopping, getting their hair cut and having a pint, it almost made me feel emotional.

The lovely residents of our towns have largely stuck to the rules to stay at home, and it was just so heartening to see people enjoying these simple pleasures we all used to take for granted, and giving much-needed support to our local businesses with such gusto.

We’ve also heard from lots of people, who have either set up businesses during the last year or have spent time trying to improve them while they’ve been forcibly closed.

Just this week we received a message from the lovely Nina and Justin from Juna Home and Garden in Angmering. While their shop was closed, they were busy incorporating a little coffee shop into their business. And from the sounds of it, their hard work paid off and on Monday they were busy with customers.

People in Littlehampton really wanted a haircut!

I also took a call from a lovely lady called Vicki, who was working in the theatre industry when her work suddenly stopped last year.

She’s now working to open a sustainable textiles craft business in Goring in the next month or so.

It’s just two examples of the great fortitude so many people in our little part of the world have had in this tough year.

It makes me so proud to live here. And when time allows (I’ve been a bit busy producing our lovely papers and websites so far this week!), I can’t wait to get back out into the real world and start supporting them and all the other shops, cafés, restaurants, pubs and more that I’ve missed so much this year.

It feels like there’s a lot to look forward to, not least putting my days of cleaning the vacuum cleaner behind me!

Sending lots of luck to everybody reopening their businesses this week. I hope it goes well.

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