I guess it’ll be a long time before any of us will be ready to get on the four-thirty flight from Manchester or Gatwick, to sunny beaches.
With the provisions of social distancing and queueing, it’ll be quicker to walk to Benidorm or Corfu.
We might start thinking about holidaying here? There is a place that has 2,000 hours of sunshine each year. Start looking for the half-squeezed tube of factor 20.
You’ll be in good company, there are usually twenty times more overseas visitors than its permanent population.
Are you a gourmet? Like spicy foods? There’s a place on the doorstep that actually grows garlic… has an annual garlic festival… garlic marmalade, yes, really!
Forget Disney, it has the world’s oldest amusement park.
It’s been a celebrity bolt-hole for years. Royalty, Charles Dickens, Tennyson, Darwin, Churchill and Karl Marx! Oh, and the Kray Twins and the Richardson brothers were, how shall I put it… in social isolation there.
If it’s excitement you’re after, it is said to be the most haunted island in the world… spectres, phantoms, grey ladies and marching Romans.
It’s no stranger to innovation and technology. In 1896, Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi established the world’s first international, radio broadcast from there.
I’m talking about the Isle of Wight. Once again it will be leading advances in technology as it plays host to the launch of the NHS CV-19, get-out-of-lockdown, safely, App.
I love the IoW, almost as much as Jane Austen! There is a flourishing IHM group there and I always stay in the world’s best hotel, well B&B really, The Villa Rothsay. If you can find it, stay there, you’ll be in for a surprise.
The Island’s a fascinating place and not without its challenges.
About 18% of children live in low income families. A shock when you realise the Island hosts one of the most spectacular yacht races, at Cowes, each year. Over 20% of the children are obese, not good.
Life expectancy is 6.8 years lower for men and 3.7 years lower for women in the most deprived areas of this tiny Island, than in the least. Ethnic monitories are underrepresented.
Road traffic accidents are worse than average, which is not surprising if you’ve ever been on their seductively, inviting, sweeping country roads… don’t put your foot-down is my advice.
Fancy living there? House prices are lower than most of the South but more than the Midlands and the North. There’s a 4% unemployment rate but in our line of business, health and social care work is at 18%, higher than the UK average.
If you do live there, it’s very likely that you could be leading us, safely, out of lock-down… because of the new NHS Covid-App. If you want to know how it is going to work, here it is.
The IoW has to be one of my favourite places. Back and forth, for years. I’ve seen the halcyon days of Graham Elderfield and St Mary’s.
I’ve watched as the CQC sucked the energy from the services, hammering them for not having enough nurses… er, it’s an island and you can’t bring them in by the boatload.
I’ve seen the local health economy gradually melt, coping with 24% of the population, over 65yrs and we all know the implications of that.
But, they are putting all that behind them and doing really well.
Trust chief executives have come and gone and I’ve been puzzled by the struggle they have had to meld local authority services and the NHS. It’s an island, seems a no-brainer.
Sending patients to the mainland, for specialist treatment, involves horribly tortuous and costly bus and ferry services, that the local MP, all but invisible to me, hasn’t been able to fix.
But, there is a terrific front-line spirit on the Island. At least as good as the spirit from the local, boutique gin-distillery!
There are really good people, I know, I’ve met them, doing great stuff and now they are in the world’s spotlight. Pathfinders, showing us the way. Showcasing the App and a chance to show-off the best of their rest.
Because of what Islanders are choosing to do now, hopefully, all of us will have the opportunity to do sooner.
Isle of Wight, thank you!
News and Comment from Roy Lilley