A LITTLE under three months ago our lives changed forever.

In the space of a short speech, businesses were forced to close and we were told only to leave our homes for essential reasons.

It seemed like there was no light at the end of the tunnel.

But what we found was community spirit on a scale not seen before.

For businesses - big and small - times have been tough. They closed their doors not knowing when they would be able to re-open again.

And through the pandemic they have kept us going.

They have had to adapt and change as our way of life changed.

For many shops last Monday was a day for optimism.

While many big names have left Clacton in recent years, the fantastic local businesses we have must be given every chance to survive.

It was in that spirit the Gazette began its Backing Essex Business campaign almost three months ago. Since then we have been able to highlight the incredible businesses in our area.

They need our backing and support more than ever.

The weeks and months to come will not be easy for shops or businesses. But together we can come out of this fighting.