Wishing everyone across Keighley and Ilkley a very Happy Easter.

I am conscious this Easter weekend will feel very different for many of you.

As well as being a significant time of year in the Christian calendar, April marks a series of important holy events for people of all faiths. Whether it be Easter, the start of Ramadan, Passover, Vaisakhi, or any other holy events that are observed this month, this weekend is a special one.

Regardless of whether you are observing a religious holiday or not, many of us normally spend the weekend with close family or friends. It is a period in which we can reflect, give thanks and have fun. But as we adhere to the latest government guidance of staying at home during this ongoing coronavirus pandemic, I appreciate how difficult this time of year will be for people of all faiths and none, not to spend this Easter weekend as you would normally do.  

Reading the many e-mails I am receiving and speaking to many residents over the telephone, I wholeheartedly appreciate this is a difficult time for many. It is hard to imagine how anyone could fail to feel the impact of this coronavirus in some way, shape or form. Whether this be disruption to work; concern about your business, the strain on mental health, the charities we support, our concern for friends and family on the front line, those still trapped abroad, or our children’s education – all of us have had our lives touched by this pandemic in some way.

I am conscious also that there are a number of constituents who have unfortunately passed away from this terrible virus, and all my thoughts and prayers will be with their family and friends this Easter weekend.

It is however in these tough times that we see our communities pulling together to be as strong as ever – and this Easter weekend I wanted to take some time to thank all of you.

Across the whole constituency, small and large acts of kindness that warm our hearts and fill us with the confidence to carry on are shining through. Many of us are going out of our way to help one another and it is fantastic to see. Whether this be undertaking a food shop for our next-door neighbour, delivering medicine, phoning those self-isolating for a chat, or simply keeping an eye on those in the community we perhaps haven’t interacted with before. All of these efforts help. There are also many fantastic volunteer groups which have been set up in the last three weeks which are providing a great network of support to our residents. Many food banks and organisations like The Salvation Army are also working exceptionally hard to keep up with increased demand. I would like to say a huge well done and say thank you at this early stage to all who have given up their own time to look after others so far - it is highly commendable.

This weekend, I also wish to give thanks to all our doctors, nurses and care professionals, and everyone at the Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, along with those at Bradford and Craven CCG, our care homes, our community pharmacies and all local health and care providers that are responding brilliantly and caring for us all during this tough time.  

I take my hat off to our businesses big and small who are remaining open to provide us with essential supplies and who themselves have had to change the way they operate to keep their staff safe. All of this is greatly appreciated as it forms part of our national effort to fight this terrible virus.

A huge thanks to our Police who are working hard responding to the changing nature of crime, enforcing the new restrictions and keeping us all safe. I also give thanks to the hardworking staff at Bradford Council and our Town and Parish Councillors who are continuing to work around the clock on behalf of us all to keep vital services going.

All our teachers and schools have had to adapt and change their working practices quickly over the last few weeks. A huge thank you to you for helping our key workers by continuing to teach their children and the most vulnerable children in our community, as well as pull lesson plans together for those children who are at home. It is all greatly appreciated.

Across the whole constituency, whether you be in Keighley or Ilkley, Silsden or Steeton, the Worth Valley, Riddlesden, East Morton or Addingham, or the many other places in between, we are seeing incredible acts of kindness and this is being recognised by a fantastic range of rainbows appearing in everyone’s windows showing our collective support for all those mentioned above. This is great to see and I know  they are being very well received. 

And finally, a big thank you to all of you. I appreciate how tough this situation is, but by staying at home and observing social distancing measures when you are out to shop or exercise, you are helping us all in our collective fight against this pandemic.

This weekend, I will be sparing a thought for everyone involved.

Wishing you all a very Happy Easter.