Downing Street party: South Tyneside families react as questions continue over lockdown gathering
Calls are growing for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ‘come clean’ following reports of a ‘bring your own booze’ party at Downing Street during England’s first national lockdown.
Angela Rayner, deputy leader of the Labour Party, asked an urgent question in the House of Commons on Tuesday, January 11 as the row over the alleged gathering – said to have taken place on May 20, 2020 – escalated.
It's reported that around 100 people were invited to ‘socially-distanced’ drinks in the Downing Street garden on that date, following an email sent out by Martin Reynolds, the Prime Minister’s principal private secretary.
The contents of the email were revealed by ITV News on Monday, January 10. Around 40 people are thought to have attended the gathering.
Some MPs sitting in the Commons on Tuesday raised cases of constituents who suffered losses during the pandemic and were unable to attend funerals.
Also on Tuesday, countless people on social media were sharing their stories of what was happening in their lives at that time.
We asked the Shields Gazette readers what they were doing on the day of the alleged party. England’s first lockdown began in March 2020.
From muted life celebrations to grieving for lost loved ones, this is what you had to say:
Donna Lilley: “I was at the start of organising my mam's funeral, who had passed away days earlier, realising I had to refuse people to the funeral as only 15 people allowed.”
Kelsie Paige Sinclair: “Trying to prepare for my baby coming and trying to find out if my partner was allowed at the growth scan and the birth.”
Gloria Dixon: “Not much as I was scared to go out, so spent a lot of time in house, or in garden if weather was canny. I missed seeing my only daughter and cuddling her.”
Gemma Hodgson: “Meeting my mam in the park for socially-distanced chat as that’s all we were supposed to be allowed to do.”
Louise Northam: “Celebrating our son’s 4th birthday at home as told by the PM. When we were supposed to be having a proper birthday party for him with all of his school friends!”
Nicola Taylor: “I was at work, looking after residents! Having to explain to them why they weren't allowed to see their loved ones!”
Gemma Nicholson: “Probably drinking gin in the garden with my little family because us common folk were in Covid jail, trying to stay sane and keep things as normal as possible for our kids.”
Angela Walters: “My mum got admitted to hospital seriously ill we could not visit her. She died two weeks later. Annoyed doesn't even come close.”
Waldo Jeffers: “Panicking. The company I was working for supplies machinery to automotive plants, all those plants shut for the foreseeable future. So, as a project manager I was desperately trying to get customers to pay invoices so we could keep our company afloat and everyone in a job.”
Verity Ward: “Attending my unborn baby’s scans alone, as nobody but mums were being allowed in. Getting told baby wasn’t growing as planned, having to ring dad who is sitting in car outside and break the news.
"Then lots more procedures were needed over the coming weeks, again all ALONE. Baby was born healthy in September 2020.”