Life in lockdown one year on: people in Daventry and surrounding villages share their experiences of birth, death and ambitious new ventures
Rhianna Conway, who lives in Braunston, is still coming to terms with the loss of her mother, June, in November.
She said: "Lockdown has been extremely hard.
"I consider myself a very strong-willed person as mum was the same. But losing her to liver disease and not being able to see friends and family to celebrate her life has taken a large toll on me.
"I look forward to better days in the sun, with friends where I can enjoy a drink and celebrate mum in every way possible. Because not only was she my mum, she was my best friend, my therapist, my drier of tears, my rock, my absolute world."
Rhianna has channeled her grief into helping animals in her mother's memory.
She said: "Mum was an animal lover, be it a goldfish in distress or a fox by the side of the road. So I decided to raise money for Battersea Cats & Dogs Home in March.
"I will be walking 100km with my dogs Domino and Scamp to raise money. It's going well so far and I'd like to thank everyone who has donated."
Rhianna also set up a pet gift business during the second lockdown and has made more than £1,500 of sales since launching.
Her website is www.scampsboutique.co.uk and she is proud of her five star reviews.
"I miss my mum very much," added Rhianna.
"Keeping busy and doing something positive for others has definitely helped."
To follow Rhianna's progress or make a donation, see Fundraiser For Battersea Cats & Dogs Home In Memory Of June Conway on Facebook.
When Daventry yoga teacher Robina Wilson found out she was pregnanet at the end of 2019, she had visions of relaxation classes and mum-to-be groups.
The reality was very different.
Robina, who runs Body Equilbrium, said: "Luckily, lockdown was announced after we had had our 12 week scan so at least my partner got to come along to that appointment and got to see the ultrasound. That was the last time he was allowed to come to any of my appointments until the day I gave birth via C-section.
"All my appointments and scans from then onwards had to be me alone - my 21 week scan where they check fo abnormalities, the failed ECV (where they attempt to turn a breech baby). I understand why the decision was made to keep visitors limited but I can only imagine how heartbreaking it must have been to so many women and their partners if there was bad news. I also could help thinking how arbitrary the rules were: you could go to the pub with a few mates but your partner couldn’t come to a maternity appointment. I know I wasn’t the only person to joke about giving birth in a pub!
"On the day of my C-section, my partner had to wait in the car until just before the operation. I remember him coming into the operating theatre and hearing the sound of the baby’s heartbeat. That was the first (and only) time he had heard it, which struck me as really sad. Thankfully, everything went well and, as it was the end of August, some restrictions had been lifted, so he was able to stay for a few hours before we were taken to the maternity ward. I can’t fault the dedication and kindness of the staff in Northampton Hospital; I think they went the extra mile to make us all feel looked after and cared for in such difficult times.
"The lifting of some restrictions over the summer meant we were able to meet some family and friends and even go for a meal for my birthday in September. I went to a couple of outdoor sessions run by the fabulous Daventry Area Breastfeeding Support Group (DABS) but very soon the second lockdown hit."
Robina then had thoughts about reopening her business.
"I had even been in cleaning when I heard Boris Johnson on the radio announcing the second lockdown," said Robina.
"I’m not ashamed to say I stood and cried. It felt like every time a bit of normality was on the horizon, it got snatched away.
"One of the saddest parts of the whole thing has been not being able to properly introduce my little boy to his great-grandma. My granny is 96 and went into a care home just before lockdown began. She completely embodies that stoic, war spirit as she has suffered from a broken hip, pneumonia, and dementia and has been in and out of hospital a few times over the year. Each time, she has rallied round and not caught Covid. I managed to take my little boy to meet her in September but as it was a socially distanced visit, she wasn’t allowed to hold him and as she is registered blind too, it wasn’t easy for her to see him.
"With all that said, there have been happy times in lockdown. Being able to spend so much time at home and not having to rush back to work (I’m self-employed so I didn’t have a maternity leave as such) have been great. This time has certainly made me reevaluate what I think is important and like many others, I have spent a lot of time thinking about what I want from the future. It has made me infinitely grateful for my family, friends, and good health. I look forward to simple things now, like being able to sit in a coffee shop, go to the cinema or give my friends a hug.
Bugbrooke mother Emma-Jane Cunningham used her time in lockdown to put pen to paper and write a book.
She said for each copy of 'The Positive Pregnancy Planner' she sells, she will make a donation to the NHS.
Emma-Jane said: "My motivation was to support even more women during this pandemic and beyond at an affordable price so that both their physical and emotional wellbeing becomes is a top priority.
"It's a beautiful A4 size blush pink and gold hardback pregnancy handbook, planner, journal, diary, antenatal education and support space all rolled into one. The Positive Pregnancy Planner is designed to help women feel calmer, more confident, more informed and more in control of what is happening from within them and around them, helping them to feel in a better place for their pregnancy and mother life. It is created, designed, written, ilustrated and recorded by myself, a qualified and experienced hypnobirthing coach who is also a mum to three boys and has previously worked for the NHS within the maternity services."
The book is available to buy on Etsy.
Publicans Martin Steele and Laura Cook opened a village shop at The George Inn at Tiffield with the help and support of local residents and Pub is The Hub, the not-for-profit organisation that helps pubs to diversify and provide essential local services.
The couple took on the pub in July 2020 just as the industry was opening up after the first Covid-19 lockdown. After an extensive refurbishment The George was reopened in August with great support from the local residents.
By the second lockdown the enterprising publicans realised that there was demand for a village shop.
A grant from the Pub is The Hub Community Services Fund meant that one of the rooms at the pub was transformed into a shop. Villagers helped to give their time to help get the shop up and running too.
Laura said: “Since we took on the pub last year the local residents have been fully supportive.
"We really appreciated the support of locals in helping us to get the shop open."
Laura added: "There was a real need for a shop locally offering essentials, takeaway food items and good coffee and we have been delighted at how popular it is proving."