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Villagers in Coton display their lives under lockdown



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The highs and lows of everyday life during the coronavirus lockdown have been captured in a film which shows how it was a time for a village community to come together.

One of the photos taken by Coton villagers during the coronvirus lockdown. (42184116)
One of the photos taken by Coton villagers during the coronvirus lockdown. (42184116)

A small group in Coton worked on the project to create a visual record of the strange spring of 2020, and the 15-minute film had its premiere in the village hall.

The origin of the project was a weekly theme for villagers to take and share photographs as everyday lives were put on pause. Around 900 photos were turned into a film and on the bank holiday Monday, August 31 – the day Coton would have held its annual fete – more than 120 socially-distanced residents watched the film.

Explaining the background to ‘A Village in Lockdown – A Community Coming Together’, Ann Puntis says: “It was all happenstance. Sara Godward had previously set up an online network for the village and it was being used for things like collecting prescriptions and people giving away tomato seedlings. We thought that we could use that network to encourage everyone to think about what lockdown meant to them with visual images.

Pictured before the film premiere at Coton village hall are, from left, Carolyn Ferguson, from the Museum of Cambridge, Debbie Smart, Jamie Garsha, Mel Mason, Sara Godward and, front centre, Ann Puntis. Picture: Keith Heppell (42184273)
Pictured before the film premiere at Coton village hall are, from left, Carolyn Ferguson, from the Museum of Cambridge, Debbie Smart, Jamie Garsha, Mel Mason, Sara Godward and, front centre, Ann Puntis. Picture: Keith Heppell (42184273)

“We had a lockdown theme for photos each week for 10 weeks. The subjects came very naturally from what we were all concerned about at the time – we had homeschooling, working from home, the emptiness of once busy places and the ways in which we maintained friendships. And it was such a beautiful spring, people seemed to become very aware of that.

“We had photos of empty shelves, the pub in lockdown, children looking through windows while social distancing, lots of dog walking and baking. I love celebrating the ordinary – the things you enjoy looking back on most are the day-to-day things. The photos of keeping up the spirit of family celebrations, the birthdays and anniversaries were some of the most poignant we received.

“Carolyn Postgate curated all the photos and kept them in perfect order, and passed them to Jamie Garsha – she was the one who compiled the film, with a lot of late nights working on it. Debbie Smart helped with ideas along the way. We put musical backing to it and nobody apart from the team had seen the film before we premiered it. We were also really lucky to have Mel Mason as our technical guru for the new AV equipment at the village hall.”

A copy of the film was presented to the Museum of Cambridge and another will go to the Cambridgeshire Archives.

Coton Village photo project during lockdown.. (42184088)
Coton Village photo project during lockdown.. (42184088)

“It was a very weird time and I hope we never go through it again,” says Ann. “The world stood still but you could enjoy the small things. And there was a really strong sense of community. The strapline of the film is A Village in Lockdown – A Community Coming Together. It was something that united the community, the process of putting the film together.

“It is atmospheric, it is personal, it is authentic. And by the end of it, we realised how much we love living in the village.”

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