Test Valley has given thanks to all those who have worked through the pandemic in a service on Sunday (July 4).

Dignitaries gathered in Romsey Abbey for the Test Valley Civic Service that was held on Sunday 4th July, 2021 in Romsey Abbey. The service was led by the Mayor’s Chaplain, Rev’d Thomas Wharton and the theme was to give thanks for the dedication and support of volunteers who have worked so hard throughout the borough, in particular during the pandemic.

The Mayor of Test Valley, Councillor Mark Cooper said: “The fact that this day coincided with the National Thank You Day was apt, during the pandemic we have seen overwhelming support from volunteers across the borough and this was the perfect opportunity for us to give thanks and show our appreciation.”

Guests at the service included freemen of the borough, aldermen, Test Valley’s past Mayors, councillors, and civic heads from across Hampshire, as well as representatives of voluntary support groups in the borough.

One of these was Unity, with Terry Bishop, the voluntary organisation’s CEO, speaking to attendees. She said in her reflection speech that the community spirit in Test Valley is undeniable and that Unity is proud to have been a small part of this enormous effort.

Unity reacted to the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020 by promoting a helpline for the borough and recruiting volunteers to help the vulnerable and isolated people with collecting prescriptions and other errands. This was a huge task and Test Valley Borough Council became partners with them in helping to automate the processes, and recruiting staff members as volunteers for support and to man the helpline.

In addition, many rural groups and parish councils were also proactive and Unity was able to help by sharing the government updates and providing best practise guidance for the local volunteers in the communities.

The Unity team continue to man the helpline as the pandemic continues, with many other groups, such as Andover’s Neighbourcare, continuing to support their vulnerable residents too.

Terry Bishop took the opportunity to thank Test Valley Borough Council and all the parish councils, groups and their volunteers who have been phenomenal during this difficult time.