Viv Morris is a civil servant for the Ministry of Defence. She tells us about the toll fearing Covid is having on her mental health, the devastating impact its had on her family, and how her Fell mare has saved her many times

“Our horses give us something to get up for and hope that we can get through this pandemic. My mare has saved me many times.”

“My job is basically working as an admin, dealing with people coming in to work and visitors we receive on a daily basis.

I have been doing my job for 21 years this year.
Since the pandemic, my role has changed in respect of having to social distance with my colleagues and visitors.

We have also implemented a cleaning regime. This includes wiping down a position before we leave it, as well as regularly using hand sanitiser and wearing a face mask.

The hardest thing I have found during the pandemic is not being able to mix with people as we did before. I think this has been very difficult for everyone. Also, getting into the habit of wiping down surfaces we touch and using the hand sanitiser on a regular basis has taken some getting used to.

My mental health has been affected by fear. It comes down to having to have faith in other people following the rules and regulations. This applies to both at work and while at home for me.

We, my daughter and I, have had things delivered to the house — food, meat, horse and dog food, for example — to minimise the risk to us.

But I have also been worried about my family. Both of my sisters are classed as vulnerable, with one being extremely vulnerable.

This sadly came true when my sister Wendy caught Covid, along with her husband, two sons and one daughter-in-law. Wendy’s other daughter-in-law didn’t catch it, thankfully, as she was pregnant.

All four of them were very ill, but sadly Wendy was too ill and the virus claimed her life on the February 2nd, 2021. She was 58 years old and due to have her first grandchild.

This has affected our family very deeply. And for myself, who also has asthma, it has confirmed my fear of Covid.

I also have my youngest daughter living with me. She too has health issues so I am doing all I can to protect her — this is foremost in my mind.

My horses: ‘something to get up for’

My daughter and I have three ponies. Littletree Rhianna (‘Milly’, who is 14 this year, has been with us since she was nine months old. She’s a registered Fell pony and we have bred two beautiful foals from her.

Milly was bought after my Dad died and left me a bit of money. My best friend had been murdered five weeks earlier and so I bought Milly in memory of the two of them. I hoped she’d do well — and she has.

She has been shown numerous times and has stood champion and supreme of show many times. She is a winner of the yearling class at the Great Yorkshire Show and has never placed lower than fourth there since. She’s my best friend.

Dalehead Jewel, another Fell, is 15 and she has been with us for eight years. She’s grey and when we bought her she had extreme sweet itch. With the care of my daughter, she’s gone on to show with success.

Bankwood Betty Boo, our third Fell, is four. We’ve had her since she was weaned and she has been shown lightly, also winning the yearling class at Great Yorkshire Show and Nidderdale Show. We only took her to the latter for experience, and she won her mixed mountain and moorland class before standing reserve shampion. She has always been in the top three in her short showing career.

Milly produced a beautiful colt foal just after lockdown one last year. We’ve called him Sleights Con Artist (‘Joker’) as he makes us laugh all the time.

Our horses give us something to get up for and hope that we can get through this pandemic. They have been our go-to ears when times have been harder than normal.

They have certainly been our best friends and for that we are extremely grateful. Milly in particular has saved me many times.