Today is the National Day of Reflection, a day when people around the country are remembering the family, friends and colleagues they have lost over the last two years, and reflecting on the sacrifices made since the beginning of the pandemic. 

We asked our community to send us their personal notes of thanks and reflection to create a tribute of our own to mark the two year anniversary of lockdown. 

We share these with you here:

"We would like to pay tribute to Catherine Gammon who was deputy service manager at Falconwood. We miss your laughter, friendship and not forgetting the ‘Elvis’ ringtone! Catherine we will never forget you." Falconwood Team

"I would personally like to thank Aspens for guiding us through the past two years. Unlike other organisations we have always been one step ahead with vital PPE and testing. This protected the people we support, one another and our families, so quite simply - thank you." Mandy Kennedy, Manager, Falconwood Children's Centre

“Our enormous THANKS to all staff, both past and present, who worked so tirelessly through the COVID pandemic to ensure the well being and safety of all Fern House residents.  Our thanks also goes out to the office and support teams who work behind the scenes. Steve would also like to add his own thanks and gratitude to all at Fern for looking after him and helping to keep him active and busy during the very difficult pandemic times.” Sue and Richard Holliday, parents of Steve living at Fern.

"I would like to add my own gratitude to the whole organisation for all the effort and many sacrifices that have been made by the outstanding individuals who serve others through Aspens both before and during COVID. This sense of gratitude comes from my heart as the Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees; it makes me incredibly proud to be associated with the work that is done in the service of others. It also comes from my dear wife Sally and myself as very grateful parents of our son, Piers McLachlan who resides in one of Aspens' homes. Thank you to everyone." Dr Peter Green, Vice Chair of Trustees

"In a time when the world was going through so much uncertainty and change, the one constant I saw was the never ending commitment from those working in Health and Social care, and the staff at Aspens are the epitome of this. The staff at Aspens have always gone above and beyond in making sure they provide the best care and support to the people we care for. Throughout the pandemic they made them feel safe, cared for and happy. Even when faced with the challenges of rising COVID cases and staff shortages , our team at Aspen never let the people we care for down. Our staff at Aspens have provided many happy memories in the last two years , despite the world being faced with such challenges - from Halloween parties, to Christmas carol concerts, days at the beach and precious time spent with families when they were able to. So, thank you to each and everyone of you for your never ending commitment to Aspens, and most importantly for continuing to put smiles on the faces of the people we care for. Thank you." Gillian Bryant, Director of Operations

"I would like to say a big thank you to those who joined the Our Voices Our Choices daily support calls during lockdown, you all coped very well and it was a pleasure talking to you all every day. You all brightened my days, and helped me cope too. I would also like to say thank you to the Aspens Angels Befriending Group - this weekly online group was a fantastic way to help those who were isolated during lockdown feel less lonely. And finally, a big 'Well done' to Martin Ralph who is supported by Aspens and had his head shaved to raise money for our charity and say thank you to staff during lockdown!" Janine Jacquin, Engagement Lead

"Thank you to Janine, Aspens and the Our Voices Our Choices group for the regular online support groups over lockdown. I was isolating and living on my own and without this support I don't think I'd still be here now." Tony, Our Voices our Choices group member

“I did the Zoom sessions most days. The dancing and the music were my favourite things about it. I’ve also made friends through doing it.”  Our Voices Our Choices group member

“Everything about the Zoom sessions was positive. You could make new friends and didn’t feel like you were alone in the world. You didn’t feel that you were just a nobody.” Our Voices Our Choices group member

"A huge thank you to the Supported Living and Outreach team in West Sussex team for all their hard work and dedication to the service we deliver and the care and support they provided, and continue to provide. So many sacrifices were made to ensure that the people we support had all they needed, were looked after and reassured. Thanks also for looking after team members when they were isolating, offering to shop and covering their support. Our 24/7 team were amazing keeping us all safe throughout. " Ali Burnett, Senior Manager, Supported Living and Outreach (West Sussex) 

"I began Aspens last year to a very established team at Ellasdale. From the moment I arrived, the staff have been nothing but kind, caring, supportive and welcoming. The Deputy Manager and Senior Support worker stepped up during this time and kept the home running smoothly whilst ensuring all the people we support still had a good quality of life. I have been blown away by the kindness, generosity, support and sometimes stubbornness (in a positive way!) of the staff. If I need shifts covered, no matter how many shifts they have already covered, they offer more and more. I can honestly say, that every member of staff I have had the privilege of working with, really advocate and promote independence to such a high level for every person we support. It’s certainly been a tough two years, and there is no way myself, as a manager, could have done it without the staff, but also the understanding and patience from the people we support. Thank you to the Ellasdale Team! Richard, Nick, Touria, Denise, Karen, Claire, Rosie, Gail, Linda, Olakunle, Sindhu, Ernest and Jade. Our incredible agency staff Nijole and Madinah. And also previous staff who worked so hard throughout the pandemic who we can’t forget, Emily, Kim and Jeff." Scarlett Errington, Manager, Ellasdale Road (West Sussex)

“THANK YOU TEAM!” Simon, supported at Ellasdale. 

"A massive thank you to my team, especially Sue Broughton, who has been an enormous help throughout the pandemic. Sue will always offer support to myself and those she supports, she goes above what is expected and really is a valued colleague." Jenny Francis, Manager, Supported Living and Outreach (Kent)

"A huge thanks to the managers of the Family Specialist Support Service for their ongoing support and guidance to all staff." Family and Specialist Support team

“Thank you doesn’t seem enough to say, for what has been a truly remarkable effort from everyone associated with Aspens. You are all unsung heroes. Thank you so much.” Adrian Batchelor, Trustee

"Having joined Aspens partway through the pandemic, I have been so impressed with how everyone has dealt with the ever-changing and difficult circumstances brought about by COVID. I would like to say a massive thank you to our wonderful team here at Aspens. Thank you for the sacrifices you have made to prioritise the wellbeing of the people we support, thank you for the extra hours you have worked and thank you for your commitment and dedication. It is so appreciated." Jo Gouldthorpe, Director of Human Resources 

"A huge thank you to Bluebell Cafe Manager Alice Foard, who really stepped up during a period of lockdown by preparing meals for our houses to ease pressure on our support staff. This was all Alice's own idea as the Cafe was closed to the public during this time, and she wanted to do something to help. The staff and people we support were so grateful to receive these delicious meals throughout this time. Thanks to Alice and the team of people who helped her!" Aspens staff member

"I haven’t got the words to express how grateful I am for what you do for Aspens and those we support.  I am full of admiration for your commitment all day every day to ensure those we care for receive top quality care and support. THANK YOU” Gill Marcus, Chair of Trustees

"My reflection from the last two years of COVID was from the start of the pandemic, when the enormity of the challenge and the changes it would bring began to sink in! Talking about months of impact, rather than it being over in days or weeks, working from home longer than I had worked in the office, virtual meetings becoming normal. All these challenges. But overall how quickly we rose to meet them and how well supported we were by our suppliers. Specifically I remember working with Sue Lawrence (Maintenance Supervisor) to book what felt like crazy number of masks and gloves from anyone who had them and finding suppliers who would hold them for us and schools who would make them for us! I am forever thankful to suppliers and volunteers who worked with us when times were really tough." Richard Anstead, Director of Business Development and Income Generation

"I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our staff and volunteers for their incredible dedication, support and resilience over the enormously challenging past two years. I am so proud of them all for going above and beyond to support the people we care for and keep them safe. Thank you for your continuing support and outstanding commitment to the people you support each day." Robbie Shanahan, CEO 

Find out more about the events taking place for the National Day of Reflection, being held by the charity Marie Curie here.