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"Going into lockdown was tough - but it was the right decision"

Friday 01 January 2021

"Going into lockdown was tough - but it was the right decision"

Former Health & Social Care President Heidi Soulsby has opened up on a "surreal" 2020 after her services to the island were recognised in the New Years Honours List.

Deputy Soulsby, Dr Susan Fleming and Nikki Harrison will all be awarded MBE's for their services to the Bailiwick during the height of the pandemic earlier this year.

The trio are joined on the 2021 Honours List by Alderney's Ronald Cairnduff, who will receive a BEM for services to entertainment and culture in the northern isle.

Under Deputy Soulsby's leadership and with advice from Public Health Director Dr Nicola Brink, HSC designed a strategy to protect the Bailiwick from the worst of the virus. She maintains that going into lockdown on 25 March was the right call, even if, at the time, it felt like a violation of what she stood for. 

"Building up to lockdown and going through that was tough – you don’t go into politics to represent people and then take away their freedoms," she said. 

"It was such a difficult decision, but it was the right one, and that made it surreal."


Pictured: Deputy Soulsby, residential care home matron Dr Susan Fleming and St John Ambulance Guernsey's Nikki Harrison will all be awarded MBE's for their services to the Bailiwick during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

"However, the consequences of that – like the ability for people to visit relatives in care homes who were dying - were very difficult."

The result of those measures was that the Bailiwick was able to begin its exit from lockdown after 87 days, with tight border controls but no community restrictions.

"The pride for me is in seeing what a wonderful community we have got, people have just been amazing," she said. "For me what was great during lockdown was seeing all the rainbows in windows when I was doing my exercise or going to Beau Sejour for one of the briefings. 

"And it was amazing to have all of the events we had over the summer. We had the Black Lives Matter event when we came out of lockdown and it was great to have Pride, the Rocquaine Regatta, and everything else.

"At the same time we have to remember that it is not over, we should not get complacent, even though it has been a difficult year."


Pictured: Deputy Soulsby was one part of a famed 'double act' with Dr Nicola Brink. 

In a surreal year, it was perhaps fitting for Deputy Soulsby that its ending, with the award of Royal Honours, was equally unanticipated.

"I was shocked when I got the call, that was my immediate reaction. I felt quite humbled, I never expected it at all, it was that last thing I would have thought about.

"The spirit of 'Guernsey Together' has got us where we are and I would like to thank everyone at HSC who has done such a good job, as well as the previous HSC Committee. We made difficult decisions, but we did so from a position of trust and mutual respect and it was an honour to work with them and to work with all the staff – frontline and behind the scenes – who gave us the information we needed and the advice to make the decisions that we made."

While she is no longer part of HSC, Deputy Soulsby said she has found it hard to separate herself from it. 

"It was hard stepping down, I always said I was proud to represent people doing jobs that I could not do," she said. 

"I have seen what they can do, now the whole community has seen that as well."

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