Michael Bradley, chief executive of Alfreton Town FC, looks back on 2020.
What an extraordinary year 2020 has been! One I believe, that most of us will agree, will never happen again in our lifetime, well, at least let us hope not!
We are clearly not out of the woods yet, and if anything the situation may get worse before it gets better but that said, I am confident that this year has taught mankind some valuable lessons and as a result, I believe we have strengthened our resolve to handle the challenging times that may lie ahead as we move into 2021.
Reflecting on 2020 and more so the period of March to date, I believe we have been reminded that you cannot take anything for granted, hugging family and friends, nipping to the pub for a pint with a friend after work, a coffee with a neighbour, popping to the gym, a shopping trip, the atmosphere on a matchday at the Impact Arena!, the list I am sure goes on and on.
It's often said that you don't know what you have got until its gone, or perhaps better put, you knew what you had, you just thought you'd never lose it.
When we return to some form of normality, and we absolutely will, I believe we will cherish those moments more than ever.
Another thing that has stood out for me is how many people have and continue to go out of their way to help others, such as running errands for elderly relatives and neighbours, volunteering to deliver prescriptions, contacting the vulnerable who are isolated to offer them, someone, to talk to.
We had the clap for the NHS/Keyworkers that ran for a number of weeks every Thursday and who can forget "Captain Tom" at 99 years young walking 100 laps around his garden shortly before his 100th Birthday to raise money for the NHS, what a heartwarming and inspiring story.
I am sure these acts of kindness have kept the nation's spirits up during these difficult times.
During the first lockdown, we opened our doors to keyworkers and provided refreshments and somewhere for them to take a break, it was the least we could do for those individuals who put themselves at risk to help others who were in need.
In the summer there were several volunteers from within the community that came to the arena and gave up their own time to assist with painting and maintenance.
The Football Club has also received financial donations (without asking) from individuals in the community wanting to assist the club financially as we continue to play behind closed doors and have lost various revenue streams as a result.
Again, these selfless acts are an inspiration to all the staff at the Club as we continue to channel our efforts positively to ensure we keep the club alive this season.
We adapted to playing behind closed doors by investing in a streaming platform, designed and powered by South Normanton based company, Purpose Media and their technical know-how and support has been invaluable, ensuring our fans have not had to miss out on watching the games, of course, it is not the same as being there in person, nothing can replicate that, but we have had some fantastic feedback from the fans on the quality of the broadcast and it is pleasing to see we are doing a good job and keeping the community engaged.
The streaming platform provided the club with the opportunity to bring in additional revenue in the form of sponsorship and we have been overwhelmed by the uptake from local businesses paying to sponsor the fixtures, especially during these challenging times.
The Alfreton Town Council have sponsored the club for the next 12 months and as part of the agreement, they have purchased ten streaming passes to each home fixture that will be donated to local organisations and charities as well as 300 face masks that will be handed out to local schools in the new year.
All of these stories are examples of the community coming together to help each other and during these strange times, this has never been more important.
So, with the year 2021 upon us, what I would like to see is the continuation of the spirit the community has shown during Covid times, pulling together collectively to beat the virus. I want local businesses to support each other, using each other's services where possible to ensure the local economy can thrive.
With a positive attitude and by sticking together through thick and thin the community will prosper in 2021.
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