The falconer and the lock keeper: The unlikely key employees

The falconer and the lock keeper: The unlikely key workers

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BBC News: Tom Pilston

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Matt Forward along with his hawk in Trafalgar Square

Whether it is nurses, carers or grocery store employees, key employees have rightly been hailed as heroes throughout lockdown.

But behind the frontline of the pandemic there have been an enormous quantity of people that have been busy doing important jobs, as outlined by the government.

They embody these working throughout the meals and transport industries, folks offering childcare, working in public service and the monetary sector.

They have been allowed to journey to work and ship their kids to high school whereas the remainder of us have been in lockdown. We spoke to a few of them to learn the way lockdown has been.

The falconer

Matt Forward’s job is to maintain the pigeons away from Trafalgar Square. Pest administration was lined in the important thing employee listing, so all through lockdown Matt drove himself and his Harris hawk 45 miles to the long-lasting sq. early two mornings every week.

From 06:00, his “little boy” Lighten would fly round for a few hours – perching on Nelson’s Column and the roof of the National Gallery.

Harris hawk Lighten in Trafalgar Square, 13 June 2020Image copyright
BBC News: Tom Pilston

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Harris hawks are social birds recognized for his or her co-operative method

His presence alone was sufficient to maintain the pigeons away. “If I was a pigeon and saw this beast flying around everywhere I wouldn’t want to nest and get too comfy,” he says.

Matt, who lives in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, stated he by no means considered stopping his job due to lockdown.

“If someone wasn’t there doing the job that we do, we’d be overrun,” he says. Matt is new to the occupation – he swapped his work as a plumber for the “best job in the world” a number of months earlier than lockdown.

Matt Forward with his hawk in Trafalgar Square, 13 June 2020Image copyright
BBC News: Tom Pilston

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Matt has saved birds of prey all his life, however solely just lately began getting paid to work with them

He noticed a “hell of a difference” throughout lockdown, significantly as a result of there have been fewer folks about, that means there was much less meals waste for the pigeons to eat. “People aren’t dropping bags of crisps in Trafalgar Square anymore,” he says, “basically food isn’t on a plate for them.”

But as a result of there’s much less meals round, it is modified the behaviour of the pigeons. They appear a bit braver as a result of they’re hungrier, he says.

People watch as Harris hawk Lighten flies in Trafalgar Square, 13 June 2020Image copyright
BBC News: Tom Pilston

After he finishes in Trafalgar Square, he takes his hen of prey to different locations within the capital – London Stadium, museums, accommodations.

Matt says he loves that, regardless of coronavirus, folks nonetheless come as much as him to ask him about what he is doing. “It’s not as if I’m walking a dog down the road,” he says. “People show a lot of interest in it – that’s one of the reasons I love it.”

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The asparagus farmers

Lockdown has been “a rollercoaster” on Lunan Bay Farm, in Angus. Perched on the japanese coast of Scotland, the farm produces free vary goat meat, honeyberries and different area of interest merchandise. But a 3rd of its enterprise comes from asparagus – which has only a six-week season, working from early May till the center of June.

“Covid hit us right before our asparagus started,” says Jillian McEwan, who runs the farm together with her husband Neil, a fifth-generation farmer. “It is a high-intense time because it is such a short season.”

As meals producers, additionally they certified as key employees, however had been confronted with a race to choose – after which promote – their asparagus proper in the midst of lockdown.

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Lunan Bay Farm

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Neil and Jillian normally promote most of their asparagus to eating places round Scotland

“We were able to booster our workforce with people who had been furloughed or had been made redundant,” Jillian says. They ended up with a crew of 10-15 pickers, who all needed to be geared up with masks, gloves and aprons.

The farm normally makes use of light-weight tractors within the asparagus fields, with pickers filling baskets on a platform pulled behind it. But to make sure social distancing they wanted a a lot bigger platform, that means a heavier tractor was required.

Jillian worries in regards to the affect the heavier equipment might have within the coming years.

“By compacting the ground it will have an impact on next year’s crop. So there were a lot of consequences of Covid for us.”

Pickers in the fieldsImage copyright
Lunan Bay Farm

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The six-week asparagus season fell in the midst of lockdown

The farm has 15 acres of asparagus and harvested 7,500kg within the six weeks from 4 May. But then got here the problem of discovering new clients to promote it to whereas it was recent. The 70-plus eating places who normally take most of it had been all closed.

Instead they’ve turned to small farm outlets and unbiased retailers. Much of their asparagus has been delivered to folks as a part of veg bins. “It actually proved to be quite successful for us. We could have actually sold three times the amount of asparagus we produced.”

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The lock keeper

“I have 62 volunteers that help me run manage the locks,” says Alex Goode, web site supervisor at Foxton Locks, in Leicestershire. “I went down to zero at the start of lockdown.”

As a key employee, the operation of the world turned Alex’s accountability throughout lockdown.

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Getty Images

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Just a handful of boats a day handed by way of Foxton Locks throughout lockdown

Located on the Leicester part of the Grand Union Canal, Foxton boasts the biggest set of staircase locks in England. It is a set of 10 particular person locks, break up into two by a passing space. In the peak of summer season it could see 30-45 boats move by way of on daily basis.

With all however important journey stopped on the canal system at the start of lockdown, that quantity fell to between one and 4 a day. Yet boaters nonetheless wanted to move by way of the locks.

“People who are living on their boats, it is their house, they still needed to get to areas where they could empty their toilets and fill up their water. Other people needed to move around to get to sick relatives, or to get somewhere to moor for lockdown.”

Working primarily from residence, he created a subsequent day reserving system, the place all of the boats desirous to move needed to register for a set time the next day, giving Alex time to reach, unlock the locks, and ensure coronavirus protocols had been being caught to by boaters.

Foxton LocksImage copyright
Getty Images

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A crew of greater than 60 volunteers normally assist to take care of and run the locks

Alex would additionally carry out a day by day security test to ensure there was no injury or vandalism to the lock – or to the tow path, the place locals got here for his or her day by day permitted train.

He says about 10-15 boats a day now move by way of Foxton and he’s trying ahead to the canal volunteers returning at the start of July.

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The speech therapist

“It resembled something out of ET,” says Caitlin Rehal. The 37-year-old specialist speech and language therapist is describing the non-public protecting gear she needed to put on to see a 102-year-old affected person.

Neither had been suspected of getting coronavirus, however such PPE is simply one of many adjustments Caitlin has seen in her occupation because the pandemic hit.

“It was almost impossible to engage with this patient while wearing all of this gear,” she stated. “It was very hard to get her to know I was a person trying to speak to her. My impression was it was as if a bin was speaking to her… like something was talking but perhaps it shouldn’t be.”

Caitlin Rehal

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Caitlin says she felt like she was carrying an “ET” outfit

Caitlin says that because the PPE steerage has modified she hasn’t been required to put on the “ET” outfit once more – now a surgical masks, gloves and an apron are deemed appropriate to see sufferers.

As a specialist well being key employee, she has continued to work at Tunbridge Wells Hospital, in Kent, throughout the pandemic, treating folks struggling to speak or swallow, which impacts their consuming and consuming.

She says her crew frequently sees sufferers who’ve had a mind harm, a fall, or these with dementia, Parkinson’s or a number of sclerosis. And now Covid-19 – as a result of it impacts the respiratory system, it could have an effect on the best way folks swallow, she says.

“Overall we have had fewer patients but of those patients some of them are much higher risk. So it’s been a bit of an adjustment,” she says. It’s additionally meant lots of the sufferers her crew treats have been youthful than regular – aged of their 50s and 60s, somewhat than 70s and older.

Caitlin RehalImage copyright
Tobias Rehal

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“It’s been a bit of an adjustment,” says Caitlin

But as a result of she has bronchial asthma, Caitlin has been unable to work with lots of these greater danger sufferers. She cannot see anybody suspected of getting coronavirus, even with elaborate PPE.

She says she’s grateful for the assist of her colleagues when she felt “she wasn’t able to pull her weight”. “Their understanding and appreciation of the work I was able to do, in lieu of being able to be on the high-risk wards with them, was very important for my emotional help in a very stressful period.”

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