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Retiring after a combined 60-years in the West Yorkshire Police, my wife and I took part-time jobs to finance our daughters through University – she as a Home Carer, me as a Supermarket worker at Settle Co-op.

After a few years and with both girls settled, we planned a year travelling afar and we handed in our notices. And then COVID struck! Suddenly it was all hands on deck.

Resignations were withdrawn and part-time roles became ‘all hour’ ones. My few casual afternoon home deliveries around The Dales very quickly became an intense and well-organised operation to supply the many elderly, vulnerable and shielded with much needed supplies. As the good people of Settle rallied round to support those in their hours of need, we at Settle Co-op did likewise. A true team effort.

In the early days the streets were deserted, literally! Staff were issued with passes giving us permission to be out of our houses and to send our children to school. Good intentioned people and latterly the wonderful Settle College, supplied us with face visors made on 3D printers! Comments in the store of “Are you a welder now?” and “Hey up, it’s Darth Vader” were met with good humour – mostly!

Delivering was a rewarding yet initially lonely experience. People were understandably scared (weren’t we all?) Shopping was left on doorsteps, hidden in greenhouses, sheds, even in wheelie bins. You name it! People were never seen face to face. Waves from behind curtains and blinds became the norm. Wonderful supportive notes were left and I’m pleased to say a fair selection of delicious home baking!

As the months rolled by, vaccines appeared and tensions relaxed and with that the gradual return of people’s confidence. After nearly 18-months of supporting the Community and with the lifting of the shielding requirement, it was time for us to resume normal service and to some say goodbye.

I’ve seen most things in my years in the Police, but nothing quite like this. An invisible enemy whose power, reach and ability to harm was unknown. I’ve also not seen a Community spirit and togetherness quite like the one on display in this wonderful part of the world we are fortunate to call home.

It’s been an absolute pleasure and privilege to have been able to play my part and by the time this is being read by you, hopefully this worn out and knackered 60-year-old will be on a beach, many, many miles away!

Tim Cannon