TODAY’S ‘Thank you Thursday’ goes to King’s Ely parents, Tushar and Bela Patel, who have been working on the frontline and supporting residents in the Somersham area throughout the pandemic.

Tushar and Bela’s daughter, Mya, is in Year 11 at King’s Ely Senior, and their son, Kishan, is an Old Elean. The couple run the community pharmacy in Somersham and say the challenges of the pandemic have been “immense” at times.

Bela said: “Tushar is the Principle Pharmacist and I work as a Pharmacy Assistant, helping both in the dispensary and on the counter. The initial challenges of the pandemic were immense. The first six weeks of lockdown in particular were exhausting and overwhelming. Footfall within the pharmacy increased threefold. Customers started to panic buy and we were selling goods faster than we could replenish the shelves. Supplies from the wholesalers dwindled and we had to work long hours to constantly source stock.

“PPE was also in great shortage and we were very worried about not being able to protect ourselves or our staff, especially as doctors stopped face-to-face consultations and ill patients started coming into the pharmacy as the next best port of call for advice. Mr Carberry from King’s Ely very kindly made face shields and sent them to us, for which we are very grateful.”

Bela says the sense of community in Somersham never fails to amaze them. She said: “The pandemic has been a testing time for everyone, but the sense of community spirit never fails to amaze us. The constant gratitude we receive from customers is uplifting. We even had one customer produce a make-shift screen for us at the very beginning of the pandemic to make sure all our staff stayed safe. The sense that we are contributing and supporting the local community on the road to recovery is very satisfying.”

Bela also wanted to say thank you to King’s Ely. She said: “Initially, home schooling was challenging for Mya as it was a totally new concept. However, she quickly adapted and now it is second nature to her. The provisions and platforms provided by King’s Ely have been excellent and we are grateful for the hard work all the teachers have put into the lesson planning and keeping the momentum of education rolling.”

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