Covid A Year On: St Albans Rainbow Trail ignited community spirit across district

Preet Cox with son Harrison

Preet Cox with son Harrison - Credit: Preet Cox

The organiser of an art-based community initiative has reflected on the anniversary of the first national lockdown, and how it helped bring people together during the past year.

St Albans Rainbow Trail was launched on March 20 2020 in the wake of the initial school closures, and has organised more than 20 events across the district over the last 12 months. 

Founder Preet Cox explained: "The uncertainty kicked in and it was a very scary time for all of us, but I felt like I wanted to do something to help the situation in a positive way.

"Seeing the incredible work the NHS were doing - and have always done - as well as all the keyworkers working tirelessly was inspiring, and it’s this kindness and dedication to others which the group was based on."

Aulay and Beatruce Lonsdale drew a chalk rainbow on a wall for St Albans Ranibow Trail last year

Aulay and Beatruce Lonsdale drew a chalk rainbow on a wall for St Albans Ranibow Trail last year - Credit: Supplied by Preet Cox

Initially spreading cheer through rainbow pictures and craftwork, the group has evolved and diversified as the year passed. Many initiatives have been linked to charities across St Albans and the wider Herts area, with an amazing £2,446.80 raised by the group. 


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In a year where many annual events and festivities were cancelled or reimagined, St Albans Rainbow Trail ensured they were still marked in some way: "The initiatives have involved a huge collective community effort from the St Albans Rainbow Trail Facebook group members. It's enabled residents in the district to feel connected with one another through window displays and virtually online on the Facebook group whilst we’ve been going through the lockdown.

A rainbow window as part of the St Albans Rainbow Trail by Alette Addison

A rainbow window as part of the St Albans Rainbow Trail by Alette Addison - Credit: Supplied by Preet Cox

"It’s also allowed us all to be able to do our bit for our community, whether it’s spreading a smile, creating artwork, talking about creative pieces with a neighbour or friend, raising money for charity, businesses making donations for competition prizes and charity, they’ve all been acts of kindness.

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"The feedback from the community has been overwhelmingly positive and has certainly helped to spark creativity, inspire others and raise community spirit which was the intention of the group."

Preet said although many people and charities have been supported through the trail's events, the rainbows will always be a huge tribute to key workers and those who came together to help one another during lockdowns: "The ethos of spreading kindness in the group started from this point and was an inspiration to us all."

On top of the community-driven work Preet has undertaken - with the help of her Rainbow Army - the trail has been one of welcoming education, learning and appreciation for other cultures and traditions; a sentiment that Preet hopes will remain as we leave the pandemic behind us.

Anna Bassil - one of the members of the 'Rainbow Army' - has been hiding Rainbow Ted across St Albans district

Anna Bassil - one of the members of the 'Rainbow Army' - has been hiding Rainbow Ted across St Albans district for kids to track down on their way to school - Credit: Anna Bassil

"It’s been a real eye-opener to see how our community has adapted during the challenges over the year which has been an inspiration to see. The group and its initiatives reflect how vibrant St Albans is through its people, culture, heritage and diversity.

"It’s been a real honour to connect with our environmental groups, charities, residents, businesses, schools other community groups to see how we can collaborate on creative projects together with the intention of lifting spirits, community inclusion and collective efforts always at forefront of our minds."

Preet said like many others, her family has faced challenges throughout the year, but she has found the Rainbow Trail has always been a positive output to help her deal with any obstacles.

"My aim has been to focus on the things I can control, and the group’s initiatives for me have been a huge pleasure to organise just as much as it’s been a pleasure for people to be part of.

"It’s allowed for me to connect with many inspirational people within our community and I’ve been lucky enough to be able to see the creative talent our community has. It would be great to be able to elevate and drive this further and continue to show case the creative talent we all have."

To follow St Albans Rainbow Trails, you can join the Facebook group by visiting bit.ly/stalbansrainbowtrail

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