The Royal Hampshire County Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit has just a handful of coronavirus patients. The majority of the 42 beds brought in to cope with the predicted demand lie empty. The working day, it appears, has begun a slow return to ‘normal’ – whatever that is now.
“We’re waiting to see what will happen next,” says consultant anaesthetist, Dr Geoff Watson. “There is concern that we’ll suddenly have a new influx of coronavirus patients. We’ve seen fewer than usual seriously ill patients with other conditions over the lockdown partly because of the lack of exposure and a more sedentary lifestyle. Those cases will inevitably go back to the numbers we usually deal with and there are signs of this already happening.”
It’s volunteer honorary chaplain Danny Paine-Winnett’s first day at The Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester. He’s been in the building for fewer than two hours and is leading a minute’s silence to remember NHS workers who have lost their lives to Covid – in the pouring rain. “God certainly tests us sometimes,” he says with a smile, looking at the weather.
Last month I paid for a private Corona Virus antibody test, which is now available from Winchester GP.
Before you say it’s not right, it’s something only the privileged can access and all tests should be sent to the NHS, let me give you a scenario.
Local newsman Alastair Stewart admits for the first time in a very long time, he has some time on his hands.
The former television anchor-man retired from ITV News in January this year, following a ‘misjudgment’ on social media. Until his retirement, he was the longest-serving male newsreader on British television, having worked in both local and national news for over 40 years.
You’ve probably seen our Spring issue cover artist Don Lavelle painting life on High Street, in the grounds of Winchester Cathedral or in a tucked-away corner of the city. That’s because he spends six days a week in Winchester, working in all weathers, and has done for many years, always finding something new to capture on canvas.
“Before I retired I was a chemist,” he says, “and that scientific part of me lends itself well to making sure the paintings are spot-on architecturally and that everything is in proportion. But it’s always the people in them that bring them to life. I regularly ask someone interesting-looking to pose for me for a few minutes so I can add them in.”
Meet Kev. He’s been selling The Big Issue in Hampshire for nearly five years, and rain or shine he has a song, a joke or a friendly word for the people who pass by his regular pitch on High Street, just outside The Body Shop.
Taken into care as a youngster, Kev spent years living homeless on the streets of London before heading south. “I was the guy you see in a doorway,” he says. “I used to hitch just to have somewhere to go. It didn’t really matter where the lorry drivers were heading. I’d go round the motorways and come back to where I started.”