For the last seven months we have rightly celebrated the amazing contributions of key workers who have helped to keep our communities going through the most difficult period in this country’s recent history.
The definition of key workers is broad. A good example is, of course, those who work in our NHS – the frontline in the battle against coronavirus.
But a visit to a local school last Friday reminded me how important it is to recognise the work of all those whose efforts made it possible for our health service heroes to do their incredible job of treating patients and saving lives.
The staff of Hutton Rudby Primary School played an important role in supporting NHS staff and other key workers in the Stokesley area by providing childcare so they could do their vital work.
Hutton Rudby was one of 16 hubs set up in North Yorkshire to provide wraparound care during lockdown.
Established in just a fortnight by pooling staff from other local schools, the hubs created a network of care for children of all ages, operating on weekends and bank holidays and with extended opening hours to cater for parents’ varying shift patterns in hospitals, care homes, supermarkets and other critical roles.
Hutton Rudby school provided care for children from babies to 12-years-old and made it possible for siblings to stay together during the day while their parents worked.
Many of the Hutton Rudby children’s parents worked in the nearby James Cook University Hospital, including paramedics, consultants and doctors on the main Covid-19 ward.
My visit was a lovely opportunity to thank the staff for what they did in the Spring and Summer but also to see the great work they are doing now to provide the best possible education for the children.
It was gratifying to see how an atmosphere of near-normality has been created. All the necessary Covid-19 precautions were in place to protect children and staff but the adaptations to the school’s daily life have been made without adversely affecting the children’s experience.
I saw some great and fun lessons in progress. I loved reading a story to the children in the reception class and taking part in the Year 6 Times Table FA Cup. There were some seriously quick mental arithmetic skills demonstrated!
Headteacher Matthew Kelly and his team deserve an enormous amount of credit for the work and the creativity they have put in to maintain a high quality – and safe - learning environment during these troubling times.
And that applies to many other schools, some of whom I’ve visited in recent weeks like Pickhill Church of England Primary and Roseberry Academy, Great Ayton. They are all doing a great job.
I was delighted to receive news from the National Lottery Heritage Fund this week about a number of Covid-19 emergency awards to heritage attractions in our area.
They include almost £30,000 to Kiplin Hall and Gardens, near Scorton, a magnificent historic house with scenic grounds.
I’ve enjoyed visits to the hall with my family over the years and thoroughly recommend a visit. This weekend – which features a Hallowe’en trail – is the last before its annual winter closure.