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News article

York St John University comes together to mark the first lockdown anniversary

Published: 22 March 2021

An abstract close up of a colourful stained glass window

Tuesday 23 March has been declared a National Day of Reflection, marking the anniversary of the day the Prime Minister declared a lockdown to control the spread of coronavirus. At 12 noon, the University Chapel bell will ring to mark the start of the nationwide minute’s silence. This evening York St John University and other key landmarks will be illuminated blue and yellow, to recognise the impact the pandemic has had on the local community. 

Vice Chancellor of York St John University, Professor Karen Bryan OBE said: “The past twelve months have changed the way we live and work, and our perspective on many aspects of life. It is a year we could never have predicted or prepared for, but one in which our community at York St John has displayed remarkable ingenuity, resilience, commitment, and spirit. Tragically, the past year has also seen so many people experience awful loss, and painful separation. This is a moment to reflect and remember the virus’ impact on families everywhere.”   

 The University Chapel will be open all day for anyone who might appreciate the chance to be still and reflect.  You can sit quietly, light a candle in memory of all who have died, give thanks for the NHS and care workers, or just think about how the year has been for you.  If you are not yet back on campus, but would like a candle lit on your behalf, please email the Chaplain at  

York St John University Chaplain, Reverend Jane Speck said: “When we went into lockdown a year ago, few of us imagined it would last this long.  Our lives have been changed and none of us is completely unaffected.  Today we remember the people who have died, and all who loved and miss them; we give thanks for the key workers who have worked tirelessly to keep us all going, and we hope for a brighter future.  We in the Chaplaincy are here to listen, support and pray for our community as we move forward together.” 

On Tuesday evening, the University will join other key institutions in York in a visual marking of the anniversary. Lord Mayor’s Walk, the City Walls and other York landmarks will be illuminated yellow and blue, the colours of St Leonard’s Hospice. The light up event is designed to bring our community together and give people a chance to reflect on this historic year and the personal and professional challenges people have faced. 

Dr John Wilson, Director of Bereavement Services at York St John University Counselling and Mental Health Centre said: “We at the Centre are pleased to support this important initiative by St Leonard’s Hospice and are grateful to the University for lighting up our historic buildings. It is a message of hope and resilience, symbolic of the University’s enduring place in the local community. We will continue to offer our practical support for those affected by the pandemic, and look forward to better times, never forgetting the lost loved ones we will take into our future.”  

The anniversary also marks a point to reflect on the inspirational work done by the staff, students and alumni of York St John University to help others and tackle the spread of Covid. From making visors and scrubs, to supporting vulnerable children and boosting our regional testing capacity, our University community has shown great humanity during this national crisis.  Keeping connected, the dedicated provision of much-needed grief support and care packages for students all highlight the daily acts of kindness at the heart of York St John. 

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