TWO politicians have reflected on an extraordinary year as the country marks one year since the first lockdown.

In the work place, home working has become the norm as well as chats over Zoom.

The face mask has become mandatory, social distancing has been imposed and hygiene measures have been meticulously followed.

The pandemic has turned life upside down but for Darren Millar, MS for Clwyd West, and Dr James Davies, MP for Vale of Clwyd, the aim has been to stay upright and to adapt to the new normal whilst still working and representing constituents.

Dr Davies said: "As a member of parliament, rarely has there been a moment to rest since the start of the pandemic. In fact, around a year ago, I vividly recall working into the early hours while struggling with Coronavirus symptoms.

"Over the last year, I have received nearly 7,000 contacts from constituents, over 40 per cent of which have been personal cases requesting often urgent advice or assistance.

"Early on, issues ranged from the repatriation of stranded constituents, to shielding letters, keyworker status, volunteering and supermarket delivery eligibility. Very soon, there were all manner of questions relating to delays in the implementation of policy in Wales, including for testing and help for businesses and workers.

"Over the summer, many queries arose relating to restrictions, travel refunds and A-Level results. Increasingly, concerns have been raised with me over differing policies being pursued across Britain – whether for face coverings, the five-mile and county boundary travel rules, the cordoning off of non-essential items, alcohol sale bans or the firebreak.

"More recently, correspondence has often centred around the vaccination programme, the slow roll-out of lateral flow testing in the NHS locally, the provision of routine healthcare and the roadmap back to normality."

Mr Millar said that working arrangements have changed "significantly" over the past 12 months.

Like many people working from home, Mr Millar's days involve sitting in front of a screen and being around other family members.

"Our dog Blue, who scampers in when it’s dinner time," he said.

"I sit from morning until night in a small study coordinating work with my team, all of whom are now based remotely.

"Days are long and I’m often working until late into the evening to provide constituents with the help and advice they need. Days are filled with emails, telephone calls and virtual meetings, and the overwhelming majority of casework is pandemic related in some way.

"An upside of working from home is that I’ve been able to see more of the family and don’t have to spend such a long time travelling each week, but it’s also difficult to switch off and I find it pretty exhausting.

"Like many of my constituents, my family has been affected by Covid. Friends and family have been sick and we’ve lost loved ones.

"I pray to God every day for those who have been working so hard to protect people and for those who are sick, lonely, tired or struggling financially as a result of the pandemic, that he would give them the strength they need."

On January 11 2020, Chinese state media reported its first confirmed death from the virus - a 61-year-old male resident of the city. Chinese scientists identified the illness as a type of coronavirus

Mr Millar said: "My first recollections were seeing a few references to a mystery illness in China in the side columns in news reports. I didn’t think much of it at the time and no one could have predicted that we would now be in the situation we find ourselves.

"As a member of the Senedd, I recall meetings and briefings on the possible restrictions that were being considered prior to the announcement of the first lockdown. They seemed extraordinary but we were assured that they were necessary and would be subject to regular review. Little did we know that many of them would still be in force some 12 months later.

"I remember watching Boris Johnson live as he announced the UK-wide lockdown. It felt surreal, like a declaration of war, and I guess it was.

"It’s not easy to get the balance right between protecting lives, livelihoods and liberties, but these are the things that government’s around the world have been having to grapple with," he added.

"Decisions like the imposition of travel bans, five mile rules, closing supermarket aisles, banning care home visits and the like have been controversial and had adverse consequences but I have no doubt that when people have made them they did so because they felt that they were the right thing to do.

"Throughout the pandemic, many constituents have contacted me because they want to see tougher restrictions, and many have contacted me because they want to see them relaxed. Others have just been confused about the restrictions, needed guidance to interpret them or wanted to see the evidence to support them.

"It’s been inspiring to see an army of key workers and volunteers rise to the challenge in response.

"Our NHS staff and social care workers have been relentless under pressure, as have supermarket staff, school staff, bin men and a whole host of others who have put themselves at risk for the sake of others; they are super heroes.

"The success of the Covid vaccination programme is now beginning to turn the tide against the pandemic and I have been hugely impressed by the pace of the rollout here in North Wales. The NHS, military and volunteers are doing a first class job.

"We’ve come a long way, at huge cost, but things are now beginning to improve and I hope to see a gradual relaxation of restrictions so that we can get rebuild our society and economy, and embrace our loved ones once again soon."

Dr Davies, who is a GP, and has sadly lost a relative to Covid, agreed that we must all look forward to a "brighter future".

He admitted, like so many families and individuals, he has found the last year "tough".

"Throughout the pandemic, I have wanted to make myself available, as necessary, to assist in frontline efforts as a doctor," he added.

"It has been particularly cheering to get involved in vaccination efforts with Clarence Medical Centre in recent weeks.

"I can look back with a sense of satisfaction and pride at the service I and my team have been able to offer constituents at a time of need."