YOU know when you start keeping a diary, and by about mid-February you’ve given up on it because: a) you can’t be bothered and b) you don’t really have anything to write about anyway?

Well that sounds about right for a 2020 diary.

After my gran died, I remember finding among her things a diary in which she’d carefully noted events and trips she was planning throughout that year. It was poignant to see her neat handwriting on dates that would fall several months after her death.

That’s kind of how I feel about 2020. We started out looking ahead to all the things we’d been planning - holidays, theatre trips, concerts, sports events, weekends away, family get-togethers, parties - then with barely a quarter of the year gone, all our plans were askew.

It felt quite exciting to be waking up to a new decade on January 1. By late spring there were moments when I wondered if I might actually be losing my mind. By then, like many people, I’d lost a beloved family member to coronavirus, and was unable to attend the funeral in lockdown. The reality of this dreadful pandemic felt very close to home. And life in general had changed so overwhelmingly quickly - I veered between sticking my head in the sand and waking up with a knot of anxious pain in my stomach.

It has been a terrible year, in so many ways, and tonight we will finally be rid of it. Let’s not kid ourselves that 2021 will be any different, at least for the first few months, but we must cling to hope. Because along with the vaccine, it’s all we have.

The announcement of a Covid-19 vaccine has been voted one of the best things about 2020. A Keighley-born centenarian and his plucky NHS walks was another. As we near the end of this turbulent year, it’s worth remembering that while a global pandemic can bring out the worst in people - those who bulk-bought all the pasta, shouted at harassed supermarket workers, flocked to the beach, crowded into shops, had everyone round after the pub and refused to wear a mask - it can also create local heroes.

Over a third of those surveyed for a new study have been moved to tears by an act of kindness this year. The Thursday 8pm clap, ‘Thank you NHS’ rainbow paintings in windows, seeing frontline health workers reunited with their families, and Captain Sir Thomas Moore’s fundraising are among the most heartwarming moments of 2020. A quarter of those surveyed feel more resilient, following the challenges of this year, and over half want to develop closer bonds with friends, neighbours and relatives. Appreciating the little things and being more caring are among silver linings of the survey by Zoono hand sanitiser, which is working with Shelter on helping the homeless this winter.

Those who warmed my heart this year include the care home workers who moved in with residents during lockdown; the volunteers taking time to call and chat to isolated elderly people and those with dementia; and the food banks reaching out to rising numbers of families in need. Closer to home, an elderly neighbour regularly puts little chocolate bars through letter boxes on our street - a simple gesture with a cheery wave. And a friend who has terminal cancer, and not an ounce of self-pity, has worked tirelessly to support other patients left distressed and floundering when their treatments went on hold.

It remains to be seen how we come out of this. Will we slip back into old ways and take it all for granted again? Having seen how quickly it can be taken away, I hope not. Happy New Year.