“Pity the land that needs heroes” said the poet Bertolt Brecht. Britain during and after the pandemic has certainly needed and will need its heroes.

But we now know that the real heroes are the many millions of people, often the least well paid, who have worked throughout this most difficult period to sustain and protect our lives – not only the rightly recognised doctors and nurses of the NHS, but ambulance drivers, care home workers, cleaners, bus, train and taxi drivers, the people who collect and recycle our rubbish, shop and postal workers, lorry drivers and people who bring parcels to our doors, and others.

We now know the real value of our keyworkers but this ignores the huge unpaid contribution of volunteers and countless individuals. We have re-learned what we already knew – to look out for each other and to help those who cannot help themselves.

When the Government was not able to make and distribute PPE clothing and masks for hospital and care home staff, thousands of ordinary people started sewing much needed “scrubs” to support our health workers. Good neighbour schemes flourished in every street, ensuring the elderly, the sick and those forced to isolate received food and supplies. Social media networks have helped to provide the most-needy with clothing, food, transport and simple companionship, or to raise vitally needed money for otherwise threatened services.

Nowhere was this better demonstrated than in Yorkshire. It is no coincidence that the person who has embodied this new spirit of personal giving, nationally, is Capt. Sir Tom Moore, whose rugged determination to “get on with it” by raising a massive financial contribution for the NHS, has captured the imagination and hearts of the nation.

But should we not extend the same gratitude we have for Sir Tom to the many other people who, on their own or through organisations, have also devoted so much of their lives, often at great personal risk and for no financial reward, to saving lives, protecting the public or helping their follow citizens?

The Yorkshire Society intends to do just that. We will recognise those who have epitomised the selfless community spirit that we hold so dear. Across our region – the three Ridings of Yorkshire, there are heroes who must be celebrated and honoured in some way. Those who have done more than is needed, more than was expected and more than they themselves thought possible. From all walks of like, young and old, rich and poor, we want to find them and say ‘thank you’ on behalf of the people of Yorkshire.

Once the pandemic is over and government guidance allows, we will initiate a search for those who deserve to have their heroic, selfless efforts recognised and rewarded.

If you know someone who deserves to be recognised for their heroic effort during the pandemic, please let us know by writing to contact@theyorkshiresociety.org

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