Hadleigh ranked among worst-hit towns for excess deaths amid Covid
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
Hadleigh residents have been praised for their "huge sense of community" after figures revealed the town's excess death number surged amid the second wave of Covid.
Office for National Statistics data has shown the neighbourhood recorded 136 deaths between September 2020 and March 2021.
This was 57 more than the average of 79 for the same period in the pre-pandemic years between 2015 and 2019.
It was the second-largest number of excess deaths reported by a neighbourhood in England and Wales during the period between last autumn and spring this year.
Only the West St Leonards area of Hastings, in East Sussex, recorded more excess deaths in England and Wales in the same timeframe.
The figures come after the Care Quality Commission revealed 57 of a total 63 Covid-related deaths in Hadleigh as of March 31 this year were reported by four care homes.
Hadleigh High School also sent home nearly 150 staff and students last November after several cases of Covid were identified.
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A memorial garden is being created on the grounds of Hadleigh Nursing Home as a permanent reminder of those lost amid the pandemic.
Frank Minns, mayor of Hadleigh, paid tribute to the community and said the crisis had "brought out the best of people".
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He said: "There's no doubt we had a very bad period last November - that shook people a lot.
"But the people of Hadleigh have kept going. I don't see a crisis of morale.
"What's clear is that there has been a huge sense of community. This has brought out the best of people, even while things were grim. It was remarkable.
"Hadleigh has been hit quite hard and more than half of the deaths have been in care homes - it's dreadful what they went through.
"It's important that we don't forget these people but we shouldn't remember them for the reason they have died.
"The town's been through some grim times but I think we have shown a proper sense of community."