IN recent weeks we’ve all seen stories that have lifted the heart in the midst of the coronavirus crisis: the wonderful community spirit of people singing and playing music on their balconies while self-isolating from the infection, the hardworking medical staff working at the frontline, the stoical public here and abroad preparing for the challenges ahead.

This week I was particularly moved by a message from one of the essential workers that is helping the public and does so in the face of additional challenges.

James Beardwell from Witham in Essex has autism and learning difficulties. In a Twitter post, which has been liked by more than 13,000 people, he said: “My little speech to say how proud I am on how I coped with it extremely well at my work today.

“My friends & my family are so proud of me. Because I didn’t panic, I am not scared & frightened. Because we will beat the coronavirus very soon”.

Half a million people have now watched the “little speech” by James. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should.

He says: “I’ve just got back from work today and I’ve got some fantastic news: my work went really, really well today, because nobody was being rude to me, while I was working with the trolleys and most of the people were lovely and polite to me and one of them had a lovely conversation with me … ”

James Beardwell is amazing. Despite suffering from severe anxiety, he has been going to work at his local Sainsbury store and helping shoppers who are preparing for the onset of the next stage of the coronavirus crisis.

James is extremely positive about his work and has a message for us all: “ … I’ve remembered to wash my hands more often for 20 seconds, especially before and after work.

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“Mostly I am so, so proud of myself, on how I coped with it very, very well, and because my family and friends will be very proud for me because I am not frightened and I am not scared about Covid-19 because: trust me, we will beat this.

“We will beat this very soon. So don’t be scared, don’t be frightened. Most important is to stay safe, stay healthy. Things will be alright”.

How inspirational is that? Imagine having the additional challenges that James faces and still setting such an example! I’m sure everyone reading this column will agree with me when I say: thank you James.

Thanks for your positivity, thanks for your enthusiasm, thanks for your courage in the face of adversity, thanks for your inspiration to others, thanks for the contribution that you are making to society as we get through the coronavirus crisis.

As we head into the coronavirus storm, the government has published a list of key workers. Society will depend on these workers as we go through the pandemic and their children will still be able to go to school while they provide the key services we all require. The list includes: a range of people working in health and social care; in education and childcare; in key public services including local and national government roles that are essential to the Covid-19 response; in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery as well as key goods like hygienic and veterinary medicines.

The National:

The list also includes public safety and national security workers such as the police, military and fire and rescue personnel. Transport workers who will keep the supply chain working as well as staff in the utilities, communication and financial services in important roles such as the postal service, payment providers and waste disposal sectors.

With the death toll expected to rise significantly in the weeks ahead, people who manage and conduct funerals are classed as key workers, bringing into sharp relief the dangers from coronavirus.

All of these key workers have family and friends. Many are parents who will have to juggle their vital service to the public with their responsibilities to their children. All of them are trying to make sure that they don’t become infected, but they are putting themselves in harms way by not self-isolating.

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Thousands of recently retired doctors and health workers are being encouraged to return and help deal with the crisis. Thousands of people in nursing and medical training are being asked to start their work earlier than they had imagined.

Hopefully, all of these people know how much they are appreciated by the public and how inspirational they are. To those who have additional challenges, such as James Beardwell and many others like him, we are even more indebted to you. Thanks for everything you have been doing, are currently doing and will do in the future. To quote James again: “My family and friends will be very proud for me because I am not frightened and I am not scared about Covid-19 because: trust me, we will beat this.”