From DIY to family time, Penna Education reflect on a year in lockdown

It’s been a whole year since the UK went into lockdown in March 2020. Our Penna Education team reflects on how they’ve each faired since.


Our Head of Education, Jane Johns, looks back on how things have changed for her:

Lockdown has meant slowing down on travel – I’ve replaced leaping from trains and planes to see clients with online meetings instead.  It’s been lovely to have the kind of hours I spent with my children when they were 7 & 4 (they’re now 27 & 24!). My household has seen strict exercising regimes from the 27-year-old, techie help from the24-year-old and washing, ironing and general upkeeping from the fifty-something-year-old me!  Truthfully, I have loved most aspects of the continued close proximity of my children but miss live football and grabbing a curry ad hoc. And the excitement of ‘homedeliveries’ has certainly passed its sell by date!


Our Client Manager, Odette Treadwell, shares her experience:

Like most Londoners, I’ve bonded with my local park in a way only those over75 typically do. Having now walked around it 365 times, I can pinpoint where the best spots are to see it during sunrise, sunset, in the snow, on a bike and on a bench. It’s also made me realise that I’m lucky to live near a park, to be able to work from home, to live with someone I’m close with and live a life that is still pleasant, if not slower. Ironically, the past year has made me realise that I’m actually quite lucky.’


For Jack Thorogood, Senior Client Manager, it’s given him the chance to become a DIY pro:

Started with a lockdown, now we’re here… another lockdown. If someone had said to me this time last year that in 12 months I’d be an expert at painting and decorating, I would have called them crazy. Jeans have been substituted with elasticated waists, Tesco Clubcard substituted with an inconsistent HelloFresh subscription and FaceTime has been substituted with, well, more FaceTime. My days are now largely spent counting down to the day barbers re-open.’


For our Senior Client Partner, Oona Venermo, her past 12 months have seen a slower pace of life:

Shortly after the start of lockdown in March 2020, it was the Easter weekend and my birthday. Usually I’d have been at brunch/dinner/drinks. Instead I found myself at my parents’ house walking in the bluebell woods with the dog. Talk about 100 to 0! The day ended up being one of my more memorable birthdays. It was the beginning of my ‘big chill’– as someone who loves to work hard and play hard, the quiet we found ourselves in was uncomfortable at first. But now, whilst I’m beyond excited to go abroad, to the pub, to a restaurant, the last365 days have taught me the value of taking it slow – so instead of going from 0 to 100, I’m aiming for a mellow 75.  


Andy Collins, Client Manager, has also enjoyed a chance to slow things down:

The first month of lockdown gave me a chance to re-energise and to enjoy a change in lifestyle from the 100mph one that living in London provides. I swapped going out for dinners, drinks, sports events and seeing friends for plenty of Netflix, gym classes and a subscription to Gousto! It’s been great to have more time to do those things you’re always putting off, but I’ve missed seeing my friends and family. I’m definitely ready and looking forward to getting back to some sort of normality, whether that’s going in to the office a couple of days a week, sitting in a pub garden or being back in the sun (fingers crossed…) playing cricket.


What can Lucy Harmsworth, one of our Client Managers, say about her life in lockdown:

Like many, once the reality of lockdown was upon us I started off with great motivations to get better at baking, to finish off those DIY jobs around the house, and to get fitter and swimsuit ready for my honeymoon. Fast-forward, and I’ve not burnt down the kitchen just yet. But it does still feature an unfinished tiled wall! I’ve jumped on the PE with Jo band wagon, so that bikini body is ‘slightly’ closer (albeit for a honeymoon that’s now a year or more away) - thank you Sir Jo Wicks! 2020 made me truly grateful for my wonderful family and friends. Here’s to making the most of 2021.’


Next it’s Kornelia Korol-Hill, Research Partner at Penna Education:

It's been an interesting year... We’ve spent a lot of time together as a family but have missed further-flung family members. We have found a great spirit of unity and solidarity with other parents; what used to be a quick 'hello' turned into conversations and friendships which will outlast lockdown. It has slowed us down and proved we can live without many things we would normally take for granted. This past year taught us the value of human connection, freedom and reinforced the respect we should have for the natural world.’ 


For Ellen O’Neill, Client Delivery Manager, the past year has been a chance to spend more time with the team:

It would be very easy to come up with a long list of how we have all been impacted negatively (which is totally understandable), but it’s also important to be positive. As the only Birmingham based member of the Education team, going from a weekly visit to the London office to daily Teams calls and chats has been great. What a resilient, supportive and funny team to be part of. So, that’s my silver lining to the year in lockdown.’


The past 12 months have been challenging for everyone for so many reasons, but at Penna we always look to take the positive out of a situation. We look forward to the opportunities of the next 12 months and are so excited to visit our clients and future clients!

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