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Fun and games in West Berkshire and North Hampshire as coronavirus lockdown rules are relaxed

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People across the area welcome the return to outdoor sports and rule of six

THERE is a feeling of positivity, optimism, confidence and hope around the district this week as the country takes the first tentative steps out of lockdown.

From Monday, friends and families have gathered in gardens and parks as the rule of six – or two family groups – was reintroduced.

Outdoor sport has also returned, with golfers back on the course, children out on tennis courts and football pitches, and swimmers diving into open-air pools and lakes.

Newbury’s Victoria Park was buzzing with small, socially-distanced gatherings as people made the most of the few days of unseasonably hot weather.

And people were certainly making the most of being able to get back to doing the things they enjoy.

Liz Sloan, from Newbury, said she took part in an outside class at Newbury’s David Lloyd club as soon as it opened.

“I am delighted to be back and I am planning on staying here [David Lloyd] for the day,” she added. “I was here for a 7am class on Monday and it was such an amazing uplift.”

Davina Gale (pictured below), a Slimming World consultant from Newbury, said: “I am so, so pleased. I have been more excited about coming back to tennis and activity than anything else.”

At a youth tennis session in Woolton Hill on Tuesday there were smiles from parents and children as they took to the courts again.

“It has really lifted our spirits to see them outside doing the things they like doing again,” said mum-of-two Anna Wake.

Her sentiments were echoed by Emily Dow, who said: “I am feeling really positive, especially as the sun is shining and especially for the kids, as I feel it is really important for them.

“The other thing that is good is that two households can meet now. Last time, because there are five of us, we couldn’t meet anyone, but now we can meet family and friends again.”

Coach Mike Gordon, who runs Premium Tennis, said: “It’s great to be back on court and seeing all the children enjoying tennis again.

“Tennis is a good socially distant sport by nature so the extra precautions don’t change the lessons too much either.

“There has been a real buzz in all the groups, you can tell how much everyone has missed it.”

Amy White celebrated her birthday on Monday and said being able to mark it with others had made it really special.

“I saw five people and everyone was in such a good mood,” she said. “It was the best day since March 23 last year, made all the better by seeing my friends.”

Today (Thursday) also sees more freedom for those four million people who have been advised by the Government to shield in England and Wales during the latest lockdown.

Although shielding officially comes to an end, vulnerable people are still advised to keep social contacts to a minimum.

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