MORE THAN 200 groups and individuals were represented when Farnham Town Council held an official ’thank you’ for all the volunteer work that took place during the height of the pandemic.

The reception at Waverley Abbey House heard how the community had pulled together to help those left desperate by the lockdown restrictions.

Mayor Cllr Alan Earwaker, who opened the event, said: "It’s great that after so long we can hold this special reception to thank some of the special people who supported the community during the pandemic and the roll-out of the vaccination programme.

"It is remarkable to think the pandemic has lasted for 18 months and we are now all adjusting to a new world, living with Covid.

"We thank everyone here - and those not able to attend - for being such superstars for the community."

Cllr Pat Evans stayed on as mayor for an extra 12 months, so was on the front line as the town responded to cries of help from the community. She said: "I saw first hand the great work undertaken by so many of you here today.

"My motto when I became mayor was to work with the community for the community - and that proved to be so relevant.

"From the outset the community stepped up to help others who were isolating or were vulnerable.

"The town council and Farnham Maltings worked closely together throughout the pandemic, an excellent example of partnership, innovation and making connections.

"The online Tuesday meetings became Farnham Connects, there was the support fund, the share shop which led to the community fridge in Hale, the prescription and shopping deliveries, a befriending scheme that is now the Farnham neighbours Network, the work of the food bank and hygiene bank, the hospital assessment centre and vaccination centre, the continuing service of Meals on Wheels... there were so many local initiatives working in unchartered waters to get the best for our neighbours and those in need.

"Tonight is an opportunity to thank you all."

The Maltings has played a key co-ordinating role during the past 18 months and director Gavin Stride said it was never an option "to simply shut up shop and wait for the pandemic to be over".

He said he had witnessed so many people giving so much and added: "People have been kind and generous - and I would encourage everyone to continue to help those around us."

Dr Ed Wernick is Farnham’s lead GP for Covid-119 and has kept readers up to date with the latest developments with regular columns in the Herald.

He said he hoped we were seeing the beginning of the end of the pandemic - "we may be, we may not be", he said - and that he had been amazed at the way the community had sprung into action.

"When we put out an appeal in the Herald for volunteers, 500 people came forward - Farnham is full of the most amazing people," he said.

"At one time we had to limit the time of shifts for volunteers so we could use more volunteers - there wasn’t a single shift that had to be cancelled, every one was filled.

"The number of retired GPs who put their hands up to help out was also amazing.

"Farnham is an amazing place - thank you all."

The event was hosted by the Waverley Abbey House and Mark Markiewicz, who took over s chief executive in May 2020, spoke about the house and the abbey.

He said work was taking place to repair the old clock tower, and that repairs would soon be made to the bridge, linking the house with the ruins, so it could open within weeks.

"It would have cost £250,000 to replace the bridge - so we’re spending the £25,000 required to fix it," he said.