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First Minister backs Marie Curie led National Day of Reflection

Mark Drakeford, First Minister

The National Day of Reflection, led by end of life charity Marie Curie, is set to take place on Tuesday 23rd March, the anniversary of the UK going into the first national lockdown.

The charity hopes the day will bring the whole of the UK together to reflect on our collective loss, support those who’ve been bereaved, and hope for a brighter future.

Joining a host of national charities, organisations and celebrities supporting the day are First Minister Mark Drakeford, Presiding Officer, Elin Jones,  all four Welsh Police Forces, South Wales Fire and Rescue, Social Care Wales, Care Forum Wales, the Church in Wales, the Chief Nursing Officer Professor Jean White and the Covid-19 bereaved families (Wales) Facebook group, who have worked to get buildings across Wales lit up yellow in the evening.

Also supporting the National Day of Reflection is Rhiannon Roberts, whose father Bob sadly died in April in a care home, a month after lockdown came into place.

Bob and wife Anne had been receiving specialist dementia support at home in Carmarthenshire from Marie Curie Nurse Charlotte, who continued to check in on Anne when he was admitted to hospital and later the care home on New Year’s Eve 2019.

Rhiannon said: “Because of the severity of his dementia we were unable to get him into a care home in Carmarthenshire, which was distressing in itself.   

“There were several times when we couldn’t visit him even early on because of the Norovirus that kept breaking out in care homes, then March came and of course we were in lockdown, and unfortunately it was one of those care homes where there was an outbreak of coronavirus.

“So that made it exceedingly difficult. The care home in the first instance tried to keep in touch with families and allow us to speak to patients via What’s App but that stopped once Covid hit the care home, so we weren’t able to speak to dad, we weren’t able to communicate with him and that was difficult indeed.   

“Then I had a call on April the 21st in the morning, it was one of the nurses there who said that dad had gone downhill. We had a last opportunity to communicate with him and the next morning he’d passed away.

“Dad had gone to the point where he was not walking, he was bed and room bound.  The deterioration was rapid. 

“Despite having an acute feeling of loss, dad is now at peace. He had little quality of life, and especially as circumstances have it right now, we still wouldn’t be able to go and visit and spend time with him.”

Rhiannon welcomed the plans for a National Day of Reflection, and said she hoped it could become an annual event to help people remember their loved ones, and to support the millions bereaved through such a difficult time.

On the Day, Marie Curie is inviting everyone to take part in a minute’s silence at 12 noon to reflect on those who have died and then to appear on their doorsteps with candles, torches or simply lights from their mobile phones, for a second minute of silence at 8pm, to show support and solidarity for the millions of people who have been bereaved in these incredibly tough times.

Marie Curie Chief Executive Matthew Reed said: “We need to mark the huge amount of loss we’ve seen this year and show support for everyone who has been bereaved in the most challenging of circumstances – be that from covid or any other cause.  We invite everyone to join together on the 23rd March to reflect, remember and celebrate the lives of everyone that has died during these challenging times – from Covid and other causes.” 

Professor Mark Drakeford, First Minister of Wales said: “Over the last 12 months the pandemic has turned all our lives upside down. Too many families have lost loved ones and close friends and so many people haven’t had a chance to say goodbye because of all the changes that coronavirus has meant to our lives.

“It’s really important that we have the opportunity to come together to reflect on the last year. 23 March is an opportunity to unite and support each other during this tough time.”

Presiding Officer, Elin Jones MS, added: “As we continue through this period which has proved difficult for us all over the past 12 months, it is important that we take a moment to support the people around us and to remember all the families who are grieving the loss of a loved one. This moment of solidarity is an opportunity to show kindness as a nation, as we have done many times over the year, and as we must continue to do so.  In months and years to come, there will be many opportunities for us as a Senedd to reflect on the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on all aspects of life. And while we discuss the issues, we will remember the people, the lives lost, and the lives changed forever by this disease.”

Social Care Wales Chief Executive Sue Evans said:  
“We’re proud to support the Marie Curie National Day of Reflection. The last year has been incredibly tough on our sector and we’re proud of each and every person working in early years and social care.  Sadly, along the way, we have lost family and colleagues we deeply cared for. This day of reflection gives us a chance to stop, remember together and celebrate their lives.”