Lockdown unites neighbourhood

THE coronavius lockdown has united residents of a road in Pyrford, who have come together from the isolation of their homes.

A WhatsApp group, set up by Myra Clarke to provide practical support for elderly, vulnerable or self- isolating people who live in Hayes Barton has evolved into a social communication tool with regular events and projects.

Francesca Duke leading the community singing

The road is shaped like a large “F”, with two cul-de-sacs and a longer section near the common.

Resident Melanie Duke said the communication has brought people together who had never previously spoken and enabled them to engage with each other in a way nobody would have envisaged.

Melanie said that neighbours in each of the cul-de-sacs tended to know each other, but now the whole road is getting acquainted.

“In addition to the daily jokes and memes that are posted, many of the children have been encouraged to create beautiful signs to thank the dustmen, postman and delivery drivers.”  

“Nadine from number 25 ordered a batch of sunflower seeds for everybody and launched a competition to see which house can grow the tallest sunflower.

Pauline and Ron Barker playing bingo from just outside their house

“Sunday at 5pm has become the time to socialise from our front lawns or bedroom windows.”

Melanie’s daughter Francesca organises a weekly sing-a-long by setting up her amp and microphone in the middle of the road and distributing song sheets, which has seen neighbourhood renditions of a range of musical genre, from The Proclaimers to Rule Britannia.

Keith Pollington, who has lived in the road since it was laid out 44 years ago, has run a game of bingo and was planning a Hayes Barton quiz.

 “Perhaps the most poignant example of the community spirit was on 26 March, the day of my mother’s funeral,” Melanie said.

“Devastated by the fact that there would only be four of us at the crematorium with no reception afterwards, my husband posted that the hearse would be leaving from Hayes Barton at 3pm. Mum didn’t live in the road, but as the hearse passed every resident came and stood in their front gardens. We were incredibly touched.

“During such a difficult time it is genuinely uplifting to be part of such a strong and lovely community.”

Melanie said that if the lockdown ends before the end of summer, a huge street party will be held.

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