Some of the best things to happen in Suffolk in 2020
- Credit: John Bushell/ John Sheeran/ Sarah Lucy Brown
It has been a bleak and unprecedented year with the devastation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic - but what positive things have come out of 2020 in Suffolk?
Whilst 2020 has been one of the worst (if not the worst) years, there have also been a lot of incredibly good things to happen as communities came together like never before.
Here are just some of the positive things to happen this year in Suffolk as we prepare to enter 2021.
Communities clap for carers and show greater appreciation for NHS
People headed onto the streets for a weekly show of appreciation for the NHS and keyworkers, taking place each Thursday at 8pm during the first national lockdown.
The show of appreciation lasted 10 weeks, and saw Suffolk communities gather together in a socially-distanced manner to show their support for the people working on the frontline during the pandemic.
The rainbow trail
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Ipswich mum Crystal Stanley launched the rainbow trail back in March when the pandemic first hit the UK, with the trail recognised by the Queen.
The movement saw rainbows painted on windows and doors across the UK, making people smile as they pass by and to recognise the hard work of our keyworkers.
Miss Stanley, who works at a nursery in Ardleigh, started the Facebook group that has swept the nation this year.
She said she was inundated with messages of congratulations after the Queen declared that the rainbows drawn by children in windows would be the “symbol” of the nation’s fight against coronavirus.
Good neighbour schemes launched in villages to support others during pandemic
Villagers in Orford were among those in Suffolk who banded together to help those in need during the peak of Covid-19.
Communities across the county rallied together to show kindness for one another and provide support, using the 'Home But Not Alone' campaign launched by this newspaper and key organisations in Suffolk.
Residents of Ipswich hold doorstep meet-ups
Members of a ‘cosmopolitan’ Ipswich street are continuing daily meet-ups outside their homes which they started during lockdown - more than six months after restrictions were first introduced.
Residents in Cobbold Street began meeting up at a safe distance on their front porches at the end of March, just days after the prime minister announced the lockdown restrictions and ordered people to stay at home.
The neighbours had hardly spoken to each other before - but there is now a buzzing community that has only been strengthened as the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic has continued.
New lockdown arrivals - the babies born during the pandemic
This year, while we stayed home, hundreds of families in Suffolk welcomed new arrivals in to the world.
For the babies of 2020, there were no hospital visits from proud siblings or welcoming parties as they arrived home to meet their extended families, instead they were shielded from the world to keep them safe.
Shop Local - rise in support for independent businesses
People in Suffolk have been supporting the county's incredible independent traders, with the help of the 'Shop Local' campaign off the back of Covid-19.
New research showed that nearly 45% of people in East Anglia are making a conscious effort to shop at local stores in a bid to support the region’s economy.
The survey, commissioned by this newspaper found that people in Suffolk and north Essex deliberately choose to spend their money with small, often family-run businesses.
Former Suffolk schoolboy wins Britain's Got Talent (BGT)
Jon Courtenay, 47, who grew up in Ipswich and Martlesham Heath and was a pupil at the Royal Hospital School, won the prestigious talent show hosted by ITV in October.
The comedy pianist - whose real name is Jonathon Young - was among 10 acts battling it out on the show for a cash prize of £250,000, as well as the opportunity to star in the Royal Variety Performance.
Judge Amanda Holden said: “Your act tonight was the exclamation point of 2020.
“You made us feel amazing and positive at the end of a tumultuous year.”
Suffolk schoolgirl gets standing ovation on BGT
Suffolk didn't have just one performer who impressed the judges on the hit talent show, it had two.
Souparnika Nair, 10, a pupil at Sebert Wood Community Primary School in Bury St Edmunds, received a standing ovation from the Britain’s Got Talent celebrity judges and the audience.
She made her way through to the semi-final and impressed the judges - but sadly did not make the final 10.
Nandi, 10, lands first movie role and stars in online drumming battle with Foo Fighter frontman
It's been an incredible year for the Ipswich drumming sensation, who has secured her first ever movie role alongside A-List stars Camila Cabello and Pierce Brosnan in a modern take on Cinderella.
The drumming prodigy is no stranger to fame and has also been involved in a Twitter rock battle with frontman of the Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl, bringing joy to people during the lockdown.
He even wrote her a song and the pair have been battling it out, to see who is the best rock drummer.
Nandi also brought out her very own song this year, called Gods and Unicorns.
Ed Sheeran and Cherry Seaborn welcome first child
In September, Suffolk superstar Ed Sheeran announced that he and his wife Cherry had welcomed the birth of their first child, Lyra.
The Framlingham singer-songwriter who has been taking a break from music, said they were "on cloud nine" following the arrival.
Ed Sheeran Made in Suffolk Legacy Auction raises over £400,000
The auction, which featured over 200 lots, was organised by Gina Long, founder of GeeWizz children’s charity, working closely with Ed’s parents John and Imogen Sheeran.
It followed the success of the exhibition about the Framlingham singer which opened at Christchurch Mansion last year, and lots were donated from stars across the world – as well as many businesses in Suffolk.
Half of the money will be spent creating a new playground at the Thomas Wolsey Ormiston Academy School in Ipswich for youngsters with additional needs.
The rest will go to Zest, a service run by the St Elizabeth Hospice which supports young people aged 14 and over who have life-limiting or progressive conditions.
New businesses have opened in Ipswich
Despite many businesses closing their doors for good in the town, a number of exciting new ventures have graced our streets in 2020.
Amazon has started operating from its new distribution centre on the edge of Ipswich at Eastern Gateway Enterprise Park, creating around 40 full-time jobs.
Meanwhile, a husband and wife team opened a patisserie in Ipswich town centre after years of working as mobile caterers - stocking 12 types of chocolate brownie. The shop, named Bonbon, has proved to be a hit in the town.
And finally, Zeaur Rahman has proved that hard work and dedication can lead to great things – after becoming one of Ipswich’s most popular hairdressers, from the humblest of beginnings.
Socially-distanced events - how we have adapted
Covid-secure events have now become the norm, but many businesses have had to transform the way they work to be able to welcome guests safely.
We have seen socially-distanced drive-in cinemas, socially-distanced markets, parades and more. People have had to get more creative and it has been incredible how many businesses have adapted in these uncertain times.
Community heroes in Suffolk presented with British Empire Medals
Four community heroes in Suffolk received British Empire Medals to recognise their outstanding contributions to society.
The first award went to Bryan Garnham, for services to fundraising and the community in Bury St Edmunds. He has voluntarily fundraised for over 55 years and raised thousands of pounds for local charities, including Guide Dogs for the Blind.
Juliet Wiles, who has inspired so many people of all ages to play cricket, received the BEM for services to the game.
Ms Wiles, a level 2 cricket coach, currently serves as manager and captain of Shotley Peninsula Ladies, and volunteered at the 2019 Cricket World Cup.
John Last received the BEM for services to the Fire and Rescue Service and the community in Suffolk. He joined the service as an on-call firefighter in 1973 and has provided dedicated service to the people of Suffolk ever since. He has been the Watch Manager at Leiston Fire Station.
Coastal Partnership East (CPE) founder Bill Parker, 60, received a BEM for his services to coastal management, which has seen him become a highly-regarded expert in the field.
Joan, 102, raises £25,000 for NHS
The inspirational Felixstowe fundraiser Joan Rich completed a mammoth challenge of walking 102 laps of a park on her 102nd birthday - raising thousands for the NHS.
As a former auxiliary nurse at Felixstowe General Hospital, Joan decided to help out the NHS in its time of need during the coronavirus crisis.
She was accompanied by her daughter Diane on her walks throughout the park, with the pair covering a distance of around 35 miles after being inspired by Captain Sir Thomas Moore.
Griff Rhys Jones' celebrity auction raises £146k for children's hospices
Griff Rhys Jones raised £146,466 for a group of children’s hospices - including one in Ipswich - after selling off famous people’s belongings in his Celebrity Bottom Drawer auction.
The Suffolk comic decided to enlist his network of famous friends to help East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) in place of his annual Christmas show at Ipswich’s Regent Theatre, which could not go ahead this year due to Covid-19.
What's your favourite memory of 2020? Let us know in the comments below.