A Northern Ireland pensioner who has been shielding for 12 weeks has described her joy after going for her first walk in more than three months.
Christine Harpur (74) survived a heart attack eight years ago, and alongside her husband, Herman (86), she has not left her home in Whitehead, Co Antrim in more than 12 weeks.
However, they were yesterday able to enjoy their first trip away from their garden as the number of cases of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland dropped low enough for it to be deemed safe to ease the restrictions on those most at risk.
A delighted Christine explained: "It was a wonderful feeling.
"We went to the promenade and it was so special watching everyone. I watched people walking along, walking dogs; there were two older people walking arm-in-arm and I just thought that this is what life is about.
"I would have stayed there all day even if it had been snowing."
Lockdown has been tough for Christine, who suffered a heart attack while at the gym with Herman.
However, true to form, she has tried to remain as upbeat as possible throughout the difficult experience.
"My husband is older and is quite vulnerable and with my heart, I knew we would have to shield so I was quite pragmatic about it," she explained.
"We have some lovely neighbours who offered to help us and I was able to sign up to get food deliveries.
"I was able to move some exercise equipment into the little study that we could use, and we go for a daily constitutional around the house as well. We're also very avid readers.
"We have gone out and waved and shouted over to the neighbours.
"It has been hard but I feel especially sorry for people who are completely on their own. At least we had each other and we still quite like each other after 45 years.
"It can be quite isolating so that's why charities like the British Heart Foundation are so important in supporting people at this time.
"We love the time of year from January on when the lambs are starting to appear in the fields and the first hints of green start to come through, so we have missed that but we can't change it and we just have to get on with it.
"I just hope there is no second surge."