image captionResidents of the street have been telling their stories
Covid-19 has affected all of us in some way, disrupting work, making ourselves or loved ones ill and changing society in many ways. Several households in one street – Dunkerry Road in the southern Bristol suburb of Windmill Hill – tell their personal stories of how life has changed since the virus arrived in the UK early last year.
‘I couldn’t be with my mum at the end’
image captionJo Moore was living with her mum when they both caught Covid-19
Jo Moore remembers all the details of the day her mother Jean died from Covid-19 in March 2020.
She recalls the way they both fell ill with a mystery illness. How her mother, well known locally as the friendly lady at the bus stop, was reluctant to bother the NHS.
After paramedic tests revealed her mum had Covid-19, Jo remembers telling her not to worry if she had forgotten to pack anything in her hospital bag, that she would bring it later.
“When she was in the ambulance it didn’t cross my mind that I would never see her again,” said Jo, 47.
The Moore family has lived on Windmill Hill for generations, but Covid brought that to a swift end.
Jean, 78, went into the Bristol Royal Infirmary on 22 March, and passed away the following day at 06:12 GMT. Like everything else, Jo – who couldn’t go into the hospital to spend a last few moments with her mother – remembers the time exactly.
“My daughter played a recording I had made to mum as she drifted off,” said Jo. “But I was at my father’s side when he died, and I had always promised mum I would be there for her too.
“I still feel guilty that I couldn’t be.”
On the day of her mother’s funeral – when Jo had to sit two metres from other mourners – neighbours stood in tribute as the cortege passed.
“That was amazing to see,” said Jo. “It destroyed me on one level, but it was very touching as well.”
Jo now lives elsewhere in Bristol, the family home sold.
“I’m still in the street WhatsApp group and that helps me feel connected,” she said.
“But it all happened so fast. My family has always lived on Windmill Hill, and Covid has ruined that.”
‘My father caught Covid in a war zone’
image captionHenry and Anna Mohanraj are looking forward to seeing family again when life returns to normal
Henry Mohanraj had to deal with two worries when his father caught Covid-19 – whether he would recover and an unfolding conflict.
“He was working in Ethiopia when a civil war broke out in the north,” said Henry.
“Luckily he recovered in time to be evacuated because if he hadn’t, he wouldn’t have been allowed to travel.”
Things escalated quickly, said Henry, once his father left hospital.
“He went to the United Nations office to find out what was happening, without any luggage, but while he was standing there a plane dropped a bomb nearby.
“So he went and got his suitcase and came back in five minutes ready to evacuate.”
Henry’s family had to wait to see if his father’s convoy, under armed guard, made it out of the area. Thankfully it did.
The couple – both 29 – have both had colleagues fall ill with Covid, and Anna’s sister, a doctor, is currently working with Covid patients in hospital.
Planning for a wedding in Covid times
image captionAlasdair and Amy got engaged in January 2020
How the rest of 2021 pans out is important to us all, but particularly so for Alasdair and Amy who plan to marry in early July.
When Alasdair proposed on Burns Night 2020, Covid-19 was just a news story in China.
They now monitor the progress of vaccinations to see what their big day will be like.
“We’ve just got to have a scaleable plan and be flexible,” said Amy. “You can’t worry about what’s happening next week, let alone beyond that.”
“We always wanted a fairly small wedding,” said Alasdair, who says the couple haven’t thought about postponing until 2022.
“The plan is to definitely get married and have as many people as we are allowed.”
Covid-19 has been on his mind for other reasons recently, as his father has just left hospital after a week-long stay to be treated for the virus, when hospital staff were “brilliant”.
‘I can’t wait to be able to hug people’
image captionMo and his partner Paul said it was difficult to watch friends’ funerals online
Mo Salehan moved in with his partner Paul, who has lived on Dunkerry Road for 30 years, in 2013.
A university lecturer, and originally from Iran, Mo said while he feels “lucky” compared to some, Covid-19 has created worries here and in his homeland.
“All the material developed for university teaching over the years was not meant for online learning, so we have had to adapt,” he said.
“Then there is the psychological side – some of the students are very worried, very uncertain.”
Iran was badly hit by Covid-19 in early 2020 and Mo, 48, was afraid for his friends and family. His father fell very ill in September and Mo travelled back to Iran to see him
Mo and Paul both lost friends in the past year, and felt the pain of having to watch their funerals online.
“My friend’s funeral was very moving but losing him really knocked me back, for a week I was distraught,” said Mo.
When life returns to normal, Mo says he is looking forward to physical contact.
“I’m very sociable, I love to hug people and I really miss that,” he said.
Paul, 67, says he thinks people will struggle with a lack of closure because of missed opportunities to grieve, but that the pandemic has also highlighted what really matters.
“We didn’t buy Christmas presents for friends this year,” he said. “We’ve decided to put the money towards a time when we can meet together again.
“That feels like what is important now.”
‘We both caught Covid’
image captionLaura and Dan Miles both had Covid-19 in the autumn of 2020
Laura and Dan Miles both caught Covid-19 in the autumn of 2020. She said it still affects her now.
“At the time I was coughy, achey, just so weak. Everything seemed to take an age,” she said.
A primary school teacher, Laura, 36, said the illness was still making work hard in January.
“I was very dizzy which was hard because being in a classroom takes a lot of energy,” she said.
“When the cases started rising again because of the new variant I must admit I did feel nervous being in school you want to go in and do your best because you don’t want to let anyone down – you don’t want the children to be without a teacher.”
Quantity surveyor Dan, 39, has found his visits to construction sites tailing off over safety concerns.
The couple are yet to exchange Christmas gifts with their families, who are in the Forest of Dean and London.
‘I haven’t seen my partner since August’
image captionSome people said they had connected with neighbours for the first time
Like many people Martha, a psychotherapist, has been separated from those nearest to her.
She hasn’t seen her partner, who has a vulnerable condition that affects his mental health, since August.
“He’s been so anxious that unless I was 100% shielding and not seeing a soul, not going anywhere, he couldn’t face seeing me,” she said.
“It’s incredibly hard to be apart for that long.”
Martha said she feels “very supported” by neighbours.
“During the first lockdown a woman put notes through each door saying she would help with things like shopping.
“I immediately started crying, knowing that someone was looking out for me.”
image captionThere are around 80 homes on the street
image captionSocially-distanced carol singing was held on the road just before Christmas
‘I’ve watched new friendships forming’
image captionToni Hutchinson said a new community spirit had developed during lockdown
Toni Hutchinson, who has lived on Dunkerry Road for 30 years, said the one positive from lockdown is neighbours rallying together.
“I’ve seen some lovely friendships forming, and people helping each other,” she said.
Her immediate family are in Lincolnshire, and she hasn’t seen them since February 2020 – meaning the annual gathering for her birthday in January didn’t happen.
Early in 2020 Toni, 68, thinks she may have had Covid-19.
“I was really quite ill for about three weeks, but thought it was just another flu bug,” she said.
‘Wearing PPE meant we couldn’t smell the dog wee’
image captionStefan and Jemma both feared they would be out of work in the summer of 2020
Stefan and Jemma Edwards experienced a moment of Covid comedy when they and their two-year-old daughter Matilda moved onto Dunkerry Road in the summer of 2020.
“It was a weird time,” he said. “We could see an estate agent but not our parents.”
The couple had to view their new property individually, wearing full PPE.
“What we didn’t notice was that there must have been an elderly dog living in the house that had wee’d everywhere,” she said.
“The whole house smelt of it but we couldn’t tell because of the masks. We only realised when we moved in.”
There was then a worrying time when there was a risk they could both be unemployed – Jemma, 36, faced possible redundancy from her theatre job and Stefan’s events and festivals work dried up.
Fortunately Jemma’s job survived and Stefan, 35, found work.
The couple say they still miss their families. Stefan’s father has a heart condition so they have only seen him once since March 2020.
image captionDunkerry Road is in the Bristol suburb of Windmill Hill