As we approach the anniversary of the first Covid lockdown, it was pleasing to hear the Prime Minister earlier this week outlining how we will navigate our way out of the pandemic in the months to come.

It has been a particularly difficult last year for all of us, but especially for those who have lost a loved one to this terrible disease. To finally see what we hope will be a return to some kind of normality is much needed.

Our knowledge of Covid-19 and its various mutations is constantly evolving, like the virus itself, so a cautious approach to lifting restrictions is entirely appropriate and will allow us to closely monitor the impact on case rates so we do not see a surge in infections and hospital admissions.

The Government will examine the data before easing restrictions and will only do so if four key tests are satisfied.

One of those centres on the continued successful deployment of the Covid-19 vaccine. Here in Swindon we have made great strides in this department and local people have got right behind the vaccination programme.

A few weeks ago we appealed for volunteers to help as car park marshals and patient co-ordinators for some of the vaccine clinics taking place at Steam.

We hoped some people would come forward, so we were rather taken aback when almost 300 people stepped forward to give up their time, which is a truly fantastic response.

Having volunteered at one of the sessions myself in recent weeks I can only echo the many positive comments that have already been made about the vaccination centre at Steam.

The camaraderie and the sense of community spirit is something to behold and there is a real positive energy around the place from both staff and volunteers.

Someone described the whole experience as like a ‘well-oiled machine’ and many people who have been lucky enough to receive their jabs have posted similar comments on our social media channels.

I was therefore really pleased to see this week that our Art on Tour team at Swindon Museum and Art Gallery, had put together a special art display especially for the volunteers and staff working at STEAM.

The display entitled ‘Picture of Health’ has been sponsored by Pebley Beach and shows artworks from the Borough’s collection of modern British art within the break-out space used by healthcare workers and volunteers.

We hope the pictures around the themes of health and wellbeing, such as exercise, fresh air and a healthy diet, will give all those working at the site a little boost as they play their part in the town’s vaccination effort.

If you want to have a look at the display for yourself you can take a peek online at this link:

If we can safely negotiate the next few months, we will all receive our own little boost as we finally overcome the virus.