The spirit and determination of the British public, including the residents of Torbay and South Devon, never ceases to amaze me in such awful and challenging times.
I am privileged and honoured to chair a group called Torbay Together. It was set up more than two years ago with the aim of securing a better future for the resort both from a business and community perspective.
Key is bringing the public, private, community and voluntary sectors together so one, united voice can champion and lobby for the Bay when it comes to government support and regeneration projects to create growth, new jobs, more housing, improved health and educational services, like university status for South Devon College, promoting our beautiful, natural environment and tackling depravation to give everybody a better quality of life.
Our mantra is ‘Naturally Inspiring’ because that is exactly what Torbay and its people are.
We were getting somewhere with visits to knock on the doors of Ministers to put the English Riviera on the map in the corridors of power.
I am sure that it wasn’t just coincidence that Torquay and Paignton town centres are also now firmly on a list of locations which could be in line for game changing government funding to breathe new life into the High Street - £25 million for Torquay and £15 million for Paignton.
Of course, Ministers have far more other important things on their mind at the moment, but the two projects have been far from forgotten.
What is more important for the partnership at the moment is that they – and the whole of the Bay for that matter – are given a message of reassurance and hope in the knowledge that if we all stick together we will all come out of this even stronger.
And that’s just the feeling I got as the TT partnership ‘met’ up over the website and conference calls over the past couple of weeks.
It was a chance to hear from the local health trust to see how Torbay Hospital was coping. It was a chance for us to say a heartfelt thank you to them to pass on to their heroic doctors, nurses and support staff for saving lives.
It was a chance to hear how the council and TDA are doing their utmost to help the Bay’s businesses including out tourism industry which has been brought to its knees virtually overnight.
It was a chance to hear from our local police to hear how they are managing. A chance to find out how faith groups were helping, a chance to hear about the sensational work of our volunteers – including the staff and students at South Devon Colllege. To hear how our children are being looked after by the education services. A chance to hear how culture was also playing its part to ease the burden.
I was also privileged to be asked to be a panellist for the Torbay Business Forum and its now weekly Breakfast Bytes webinar. Again, a group of people coming together to show solidarity out in the Torbay business world, to offer advice and show people there was help if they needed it.
I haven’t heard a lot – if any - moaning and groaning in this current dreadful crisis.
Just a community helping each other. Doing absolutely, fantastic things right across the board. Little and big groups. Individuals young and old. Making sure our most vulnerable and isolated people are looked after and not forgotten.
Leaning on one another. Inspiring people in our, unrivalled Naturally Inspiring Bay.
We may still have a long way to go in all this
But the Bay and its people have changed. They have had to change. In many cases for the better.
Do you know what and whisper it quietly, but now there is even talk of Recovery Plans... let’s just pray and keep battling on together. Torbay Together