Why hope is a symbol that must shine on - YEP Editor, Laura Collins

Last year's Yorkshire Evening Post carol concert.Last year's Yorkshire Evening Post carol concert.
Last year's Yorkshire Evening Post carol concert.
Christmas is built upon so many different traditions for families.

We all have our own unique ways of celebrating the countdown to December 25. But this year has proved to be a very different and subdued affair as many treasured traditions have been shelved due to the pandemic.

For me, the annual Yorkshire Evening Post Christmas Carol Service at Leeds Minster well and truly marks the start of Christmas.

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It is one of the highlights in my events diary and year after year I continue to be amazed at the sheer generosity of our readers who lay hundreds of presents at the bottom of the Christmas tree.

Sadly that, along with our annual Light Up A Life service, were victims of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Millennium Square would usually be packed with revellers in their Christmas jumpers soaking up the sights and sounds of the annual German Christmas Market. But this year the square lays eerily empty.

It is also the first time that the City Varieties, Leeds Grand and Hyde Park Picture House will all have their doors closed in the run-up to Christmas as families and friends are unable to come together to celebrate the magic of the festive period through the joys of laughter and live performance.

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Instead, the Heritage Theatres have launched their Keep A Seat warm campaign to encourage people to secure their futures through buying tickets, memberships, gift vouchers and merchandise.

Offices across the city would also be traditionally flocking to the city centre to hold their annual parties.

So it is a sad sight for the city’s hospitality sector to have bars and restaurants, which would be packed at this time of year, lay empty owing to the restrictions placed on the city.

Instead, we have seen hospitality businesses diversify with deliveries and takeaways during what should be their busiest time.

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Independent businesses across Leeds told the YEP they need the support of the city more than ever if they are to survive the Covid crisis.

Like you, I will be watching with bated breath on Wednesday to see whether restrictions here in Leeds are changed under the latest reviews of the tier system.

Council chiefs have urged the Government to place Leeds into Tier 2 after a fall in the city’s infection rate.

The seven-day rolling infection rate in Leeds is 137.9 cases per 100,000 people – that’s down from 165.8 per 100,000 during the seven days prior. Our infection rate is now well below several Tier 2 London boroughs, which have seen rates jump.

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Council leader Judith Blake said that a move to Tier 2 would be “a lifeline for many businesses, all of which have invested in Covid-secure premises and dealt with continued uncertainty for months.”

And she stressed reviewing the restrictions would also ensure people “have faith in the tier system”.

So while many traditions might have gone down the pan this year, one symbol of Christmas continues to shine brightly – a sense of hope.

Although we might not all be together, the city’s collective spirit of togetherness and its resolve in the face of adversity is stronger than ever.

A message from the Editor:

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