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I don’t know about you, but I’m pinching myself as a reminder that what we are living through at the moment is actually happening.  Not very long ago it would have been unthinkable.

This situation is bound to be a very stressful one for students, staff and parents of our Woodard community and you are very much in my thoughts and prayers at this testing time.

I am in no doubt that the draconian restrictions on our movement imposed by the Government are necessary: without them the NHS would be overwhelmed very quickly and many people would die unnecessarily. I earnestly hope that people will take the restrictions seriously and heed them – staying at home except for essential shopping and exercise.  We owe that to the vulnerable in our society – and to front line NHS staff who are doing an amazing job.

You will have many extra pressures on you just at present but you will also, possibly, have a bit of time on your hands. For some of us that will be a novel experience. Some Christians are in the habit of ‘going on retreat’ – taking time out of their normal schedule to slow down and reflect and pray. It’s a practice I find very helpful and I hope to use some of the time available to me in that way.

If we are able to slow down, maybe we shall be able to get back in touch with nature. Even if we don’t have access to a garden we’re allowed to go for a walk. Spring is all around us and the world is exceptionally beautiful at present.

Such contemplation can bring joy to the heart. It can also help us to count our blessings – of which most of us have very many even in these stressful times. Counting our blessings is a wonderful way of focusing on the positives and improving our mood.

For me, as a believer, those blessings – even life itself – come from God, to whom I give heartfelt thanks. I also commend to God’s mercy our world at this time of unprecedented crisis. May that same God bless you and keep you safe.

Rt Revd Dr John Inge, Bishop of Worcester and President of Woodard Schools