JAN MOIR'S heroes and villains of 2020

The headline on the front page of the Daily Mail on January 24 hinted at what was to come. ‘Is the killer virus already here?’ we wondered. It certainly was — and unknown to everyone back then, it was here to stay.

This has been a year like no other, with an unpredictable pandemic plunging the country in and out of punishing. Families lost loved ones, career paths were dashed, cherished hopes and dreams had to be sidelined. Meanwhile, the hardships and heroisms of everyday life came sharply into focus. Healthcare workers, teachers, emergency services, police and fire services earned undying gratitude for working selflessly through it all — heroes every one.

We became familiar with new phrases, such as lockdown — previously only used when prisoners rioted. We bumped along together in support bubbles, we self-isolated as instructed and, when not isolating, we were furiously social-distancing. Or masking up, washing our hands, staying indoors. It was exhausting.

There were times when all the days blurred into one — Blursday — and when Covidiots roamed the country, annoying everyone. Here is my list of heroes and villains of 2020...

HEROES

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Captain Sir Tom Moore would top any list of 2020 heroism. He wanted to raise £1,000 by his 100th birthday by walking around his garden.

Tom ended up with £33 million and a knighthood. A bus, train, police puppy, powerboat, garden and a horse were named after him. Also heroes are the war generation, who went through six years of much worse than this. Plodding on. ‘We’ve just got to get on with it,’ as my mother says.

Captain Sir Tom Moore (pictured) would top any list of 2020 heroism. He wanted to raise £1,000 by his 100th birthday by walking around his garden. Tom ended up with £33 million and a knighthood

Captain Sir Tom Moore (pictured) would top any list of 2020 heroism. He wanted to raise £1,000 by his 100th birthday by walking around his garden. Tom ended up with £33 million and a knighthood

RETIREES: Take a bow all doctors, nurses and medical staff who came out of retirement to help. There are no medals big enough for you all. The Government also wanted 250,000 in the NHS volunteer army but three times that number joined to help relieve pressure on the NHS, supporting 1.5 million people considered at risk. You are the very best of us.

THE QUEEN: Her coronavirus broadcast in April was only her fourth special address to the nation in 68 years on the throne — and it will perhaps go down in history as her best.

‘Today, once again,’ she said, ‘many will feel a painful sense of separation from their loved ones. But now, as then, we know deep down, that it is the right thing to do.’ She added: ‘We should take comfort that, while we may have more still to endure, better days will return: we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.’ The speech was recorded in the White Drawing Room at Windsor, with a rotary phone at her side that caught the imagination. It was vintage with a lovely tone, just like her.

THE QUEEN: Her coronavirus broadcast in April was only her fourth special address to the nation in 68 years on the throne ¿ and it will perhaps go down in history as her best

THE QUEEN: Her coronavirus broadcast in April was only her fourth special address to the nation in 68 years on the throne — and it will perhaps go down in history as her best

LISSIE HARPER: PC Andrew Harper was killed in the line of duty in 2019. The 28-year-old was responding to a report of a burglary, after which he was dragged behind a car causing his death. This year, three teenage males, who laughed throughout much of their trial, were convicted of manslaughter and received sentences of 16 and 13 years’ imprisonment. In August 2020, Andrew’s widow Lissie put aside her grief to launch a campaign for a new law, which would require life imprisonment for criminals whose actions result in the death of any police officer, firefighter, nurse, doctor or paramedic. Respecting these vital workers is one thing. We need to protect them, too.

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PETER LOGIN: The BA pilot who lost his job due to the pandemic and signed up as a Tesco delivery driver. He is now delivering goods to self-isolators. His spirit embodies everyone else who had to change direction because of Covid, but kept on going.

AMANDA HOLDEN: Hundreds of complaints were made to Ofcom about Amanda’s choice of revealing outfits on Britain’s Got Talent — and not all of them were from her agent. I think she deserves a medal for services to showbusiness in the face of adversity. ‘There’s no way I’d step out in my pyjamas or rock up without a lash,’ said the 49-year-old. Amanda’s job is to bring a bit of old-fashioned glamour to primetime telly — and she does it in style. Who else would dare?

MOGULS WHO DID THEIR BIT: The furlough scheme was launched to stop major businesses collapsing and leaving millions unemployed. Yet some big-hearted moguls, including Simon Cowell and Duncan Bannatyne, funded the payroll out of their own pockets.

James Timpson of The Timpson Group also dipped into his own account, topping up the furlough his staff were paid. ‘It’s worth every penny to help our colleagues and their families through some tough times,’ he said.

CHER: The singer and actress flew to Pakistan last month to escort Kaavan the elephant on his journey to salvation. Kaavan, dubbed the world’s loneliest elephant, finally escaped his cage in an Islamabad zoo and made his way to a wildlife sanctuary in Cambodia a few weeks ago. Cher has campaigned for his freedom for years.

CHER: The singer and actress flew to Pakistan last month to escort Kaavan the elephant on his journey to salvation

CHER: The singer and actress flew to Pakistan last month to escort Kaavan the elephant on his journey to salvation

PRITI PATEL: For daring to be unpopular and do the right thing about wrong things, for being unafraid to tackle difficult issues. A Home Secretary to reckon with.

JOE WICKS: The 35-year-old fitness star, also known as The Body Coach, was recognised in the

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