It’s almost incomprehensible that it’s been a full calendar year since the Churchill College community were all together in one place. 365 days since the country went into lockdown. And yet here we are. Now we are all scattered across the globe and virtual meetings, conferences and lectures have become the norm. Rarely used phrases such as ‘unprecedented times’ and ‘self-isolating’ have entered into our everyday vernacular, and we’ve all faced the embarrassment of talking in an online meeting only to be told we’re on mute.

The exhaustion of a global pandemic, both mentally and physically, is something we are all aware of, and the risk of burnout is never far from our minds. Many of our community members have been affected in unfathomable ways that will have changed them forever, and we will be thinking of them all when we mark the National Day of Reflection at midday today with a minute’s silence for all those lost to the pandemic.

But in reflecting on the losses, we must also reflect on the strength of our community during the last 12 months. From the staff members who made masks, joined testing labs and lived on site to ensure the smooth running of the College during the first lockdown, to the students who kept the community together through organising bake offs, quizzes and yoga sessions, we couldn’t be prouder of how everyone has rushed to adapt and support each other through such a difficult time.

We’ve also experienced some memorable moments during the past year, including flying both the Pan-African flag for Black History Month and the Pride Progress Flag for LGBT+ History month, and celebrating the successes of our Fellows, including – but not by any means limited to – Bhanu Kapil, who won the prestigious T.S. Eliot Poetry Prize Dr Leor Zmigrod, who won the Science Award at the Women of the Future Awards and Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter who received the 2020 Michael Faraday Prize and Lecture. We’ve also had the time to think about what really matters to us a College, with a greater focus on sustainability initiatives and the prioritising of matters around equality, diversity and inclusion.

There is no doubting that the last 12 months have been a difficult time that will have changed us all, but we know that when we are able to return to the College, and to enjoy amongst other things our recently improved buttery and new wildflower meadows, we will be a community that is stronger than ever, and one that is looking forward to a brighter future together.