Thankfully Ringwood has not yet suffered mass numbers of people struck down by the Coronavirus however demographics and expert opinion suggest that we may soon experience an outbreak of illness with particular effect on the elderly.

The wonderful response to our appeal for volunteers to the Coronavirus Assistance network with over 2000 signed up to help makes us well equipped to care for those who without doubt will be in need of assistance but prevention must be preferred to infection.

We must heed government warnings to avoid risk and act in accordance with official advice – short term inconvenience must surely be a better option than a result which may be permanent.

Please do all you can to protect yourself and avoid the risk of passing infection on to someone far more vulnerable.

Many local pubs, shops and caterers are providing home delivery services to meet all our needs and if we take advantage of these offers, we can reduce contact with others and help those businesses to survive.

These are anxious times for local businesses and those who work for them. Please visit the District Council website at http://www.newforest.gov.uk/article/19371/Coronavirus-Support-for-businesses for up to date information about the help that is coming.

It is very disappointing to see empty shelves in supermarkets.

Please buy only in the quantities that you normally would – there will be enough to go round if we all shop responsibly.

In anticipation of the planned relaxation of existing restrictions, I have asked the Town Clerk to arrange for the union flag to be flown in Gateway Square throughout this emergency – as a symbol and a reminder that we are one nation, resolved to overcome the current problems we face and confident in the strength of our community – stay well, be kind, keep calm and carry on.