It has been quite a year since my election to Parliament for the first time. Who could have predicted that just a few months into 2020 we would be faced with a global pandemic?

A virus we had never even heard of one year ago, has completely changed our lives. The risk of contagion left us disconnected from our families, communities and jobs. It left our local businesses and high streets struggling without customers. Our children and young people have missed some of the most formative experiences of their lives in school and higher education.

They say crisis reveals character. In 2020 we saw Britain’s character of compassion come to the fore. Up and down the country people have gone out of their way to help others and Lincolnshire is certainly no exception.

In my constituency of Grantham and Stamford, I have seen people of all ages and backgrounds going beyond the call of duty to help others. The Grantham Passage has been essential for providing meals to the vulnerable throughout the epidemic. Inspire+ organised digital PE lessons to keep kids active during lockdown. Local engineers, such as Iconic Engineering produced protective gear, free of charge, to local hospitals. However, the biggest sacrifice made, was one we all shared – staying at home to save lives and protect the NHS.

At the start of the crisis I spoke of Britain’s Dunkirk Spirit. This refers back to May 1940 when hundreds of thousands of our troops were stranded in Northern France, stood cold in the water, not knowing if they would ever make it home to England. But then, out of the mist and fog came hundreds of fishing boats, lifeboats and sail boats, that formed a flotilla of civilians acting to help their fellow countrymen. In 2020 I believe we saw the same Dunkirk spirit – the courage and kindness that defines Britain’s character.

In playing my part, I have campaigned to protect my local constituents. This has involved campaigning for improved services at Grantham Hospital and to ensure that primary care services in Stamford remain strong. I’ve spoken to Government ministers about new investment in the A1 and to Home Office ministers on getting fair funding for Lincolnshire’s police force.

On a national level, I successfully campaigned for an Infrastructure Bank that could help fund local infrastructure like roads, transport, energy and broadband that would help connect our communities. This policy will help fund our levelling up, help create new jobs and ensure we build back better. I am very proud that through providing detailed proposals and engagement with ministers, this policy was been adopted by the Government which will help us here in Lincolnshire.

Another thing I did not expect of 2020 was how much correspondence I would get! In just one year I have received over 14,000 emails from constituents or roughly 39 emails every single day. With a dedicated small team of staff we have worked very hard to help all the constituents who have emailed in. We have helped constituents get the bounce back loans, grants and welfare they need to keep their business or family afloat. For many people stuck abroad we have helped get them home and receive compensation for cancelled flights.

This year has certainly been a struggle, but I am very hopeful for the future. With a vaccine rolled out we will eventually return to normality. In the heat of the crisis, Britain’s compassion and perseverance were evidenced once again, like many times before throughout our history. It is this strength of British character that makes me hopeful for 2021 and beyond.

Gareth Davies is the Member of Parliament for Grantham and Stamford