My name is Gill Holt and I am a trustee for Sheffield Mind. I am lucky that I had no issues with work and lockdown because I am retired. The absolutely worst thing about it for me was losing a friend whose cancer developed apace, and I was unable to visit her or go to her funeral. I did manage the occasional wave to her from her front garden. This aspect of the lockdown process was perhaps the cruellest of all for many unfortunate people. My two main saviours, though, have been keeping active, and getting more creative, but using technology for maintaining some level of socialisation has also been important.

Ten days before it happened in the UK, my husband and I had experienced the effects of an earlier response to the virus elsewhere. We were in Portugal and heard that Spain and France were closing their borders in less than two days time. So we set off at 11.30pm on a 1650-mile journey back to Sheffield, and that was when we realised just how serious the situation was going to be, with ‘Resta a Casa’ signs on the motorway gantries through Spain, and no traffic other than trucks. There was nowhere to eat and nowhere to sleep, so we slept in the car.

The first few weeks of lockdown, though surreal, were made more tolerable by the lovely warm weather. It was a pity that I could not enjoy this with my favourite sporting pastime – playing tennis. Instead, however, in addition to walks with my husband I decided to take a run around our neighbourhood every other day. While it was a bit unnerving with so few people and no cars around, it was so lovely to enjoy all the April blossom, and the birdsong which you wouldn’t normally notice because of the traffic noise.

It was just as well I did this, as something else I found to fill the time was to try more difficult cooking and baking than I would normally attempt – have a look at my first-time hot cross buns and raised pork pie!


Even with the running, my clothes still feel a little tighter these days!

I have managed to get more creative in other ways too. I have been in a weekly art group since I retired, and in the absence of our weekly sessions, we joined with another group for a weekly online challenge to a specified brief by the organiser, and so managed to produce something new every week. Here are two of my attempts.


           ‘Celebrate the NHS’                                   ‘My Favourite Chair’

With a lot more time on my hands, I have also managed to finish a book I have been trying to write for a few years now, and will try to get it published.

Like many other people I now have regular Whatsapp group coffee or wine meets, so that I can keep in touch with friends and family. Although it’s nowhere near as good as real meet-ups, it does help to alleviate the sense of isolation we have all had to put up with. The Board of Trustees has also had some interesting Zoom-based meetings, and we have been so impressed how well the staff at Sheffield Mind have managed to soldier on under these difficult circumstances, continuing to support hundreds of  clients.

But now things are easing and I’m playing tennis regularly again – that is when it stops raining for a while! I think that keeping physically active really helps to maintain a sense of well-being even when other aspects of life are on hold. And, even better, football is back and it was possible for my team to win the Premier League title for the first time in thirty years.                               

The one thing I’ve really been looking forward to, though, hasn’t happened yet - I haven’t seen my son and his partner, who live in Spain, since February. But it’s looking like that will soon be possible, and we could be back on the road again down those Spanish motorways again sometime soon!

Hope you too are now able to enjoy some of your post lockdown aspirations.