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Bethany Barr: I respect my family members working in NHS even more during the coronavirus crisis



Bethany Barr

Bethany Barr

Twin aim: Bethany Barr (right) with twin Serena after helping Ireland qualify for the Olympics

Twin aim: Bethany Barr (right) with twin Serena after helping Ireland qualify for the Olympics

Bethany Barr

We are asking our sporting personalities how they are dealing with action coming to a halt because of the coronavirus pandemic and how it has affected their daily lives.

Today, we speak to Ireland hockey international Bethany Barr.

Q: How are you keeping?

A: Well, thanks. I am enjoying time with family and am taking all the precautions there are, washing hands regularly. Before the lockdown came into place, if I was out I always brought hand sanitizer with me everywhere I went, and now I am staying at home and socially distancing from all around me. It is definitely a strange time but a time we can use to do the things we've always wanted to and not had the time and to get a good perspective on what is truly important.

Q: How are you being affected?

A: The virus is definitely affecting my everyday life just as it is for everyone around the world. However, it is giving me time to sort and work on the things I've been wanting to for a while. My dad, Dickie, works as a GP and my older sister, Rebecca, as a midwife in the NHS while my Irish team-mate and twin sister Serena also works in the health service. I have always respected them for their work but even more so now. In general, the restrictions are giving us time together as a family. Dad has always followed our careers closely and attends as many matches as possible. He did miss our Ireland debuts in January 2019. We will let him off, though, as it was against Chile in Santiago so that was a bit too far to travel!

Q: How are you keeping fit?

A: I'm very lucky in that I live with my twin Serena who is also in the Irish hockey squad so we have been able to do running workouts together, while socially distancing of course. We have also been able to gather some gym equipment and have set up a makeshift gym in our back garden. It's great having so much in common with Serena which is important in these difficult times. We were fortunate to both be in the Irish squad that qualified for the Olympics for the first time and we also play for the same club team, Belfast Harlequins, along with another of our sisters, Natalie.


Twin aim: Bethany Barr (right) with twin Serena after helping Ireland qualify for the Olympics

Twin aim: Bethany Barr (right) with twin Serena after helping Ireland qualify for the Olympics

Twin aim: Bethany Barr (right) with twin Serena after helping Ireland qualify for the Olympics


Q: How are you keeping up morale, both yours and the team's?

A: It's so easy to be able to keep in contact with others now and it really is such a blessing to be able to text team-mates whether at club or international level or pick up the phone and call them. Our club team has been keeping morale up by sharing photos through WhatsApp of people working out to encourage each other. Likewise, a lot of the girls have been using social media as an avenue to inspire others which is great to see.

A lot has changed since we qualified for the Olympics with the Games put on hold for another year so we don't have to worry too much about selection and making the final 16 for another while yet. In the meantime, the entire squad will just keep working as hard as we can in the circumstances. The squad is very competitive and that is good as it makes us stronger as a unit. However, we are a very close group and everyone wants to see each other succeed so while it will be hard that only 16 players, instead of the usual 18 in other major tournaments, will make it to Tokyo, it was something that we were aware of before we started out on the journey.

Q: Where are you drawing your personal strength from now?

A: From family and friends both nearby and further away, as well as my faith in God.

Q: Sports fans are staying at home, too. Can you recommend a book, film or box set they might like?

A: A book I recently read, and one that has been passed around the team, is 'I am Pilgrim' by Terry Hayes. It is a murder mystery tale and a great read. It's not short by any means but the 600-plus pages make for gripping reading. A series I watched recently on Netflix that had me captivated from the start was 'The Stranger'. It's a mystery thriller in eight parts based on the Harlan Coben novel of the same name. I would definitely recommend both.

Q: What life lessons are you learning from this crisis?

A: We are all learning what really matters and the value of different workers such as NHS staff and those on the frontline. It's easy to be so busy and not make time for those who matter most to us. I'm learning the importance of taking time to rest and it's reminded me of how fragile we are as a society and the value of people looking out for one another and coming together as a community.

Q: When this is all over, what's the first thing you will do?

A: I definitely look forward to getting back to club and Ireland training and playing hockey again because it's not long before you miss it. Ironically, I had just played a couple of matches for Harlequins after a long injury lay-off when the season was put on hold and then ultimately deemed to be finished due to the pandemic. I also look forward to being able to eat out again!

Q: Your message to sports fans?

A: Take time with loved ones. While it may be unusual to be restricted at home, enjoy this time and do things you have always wanted to but not had time, because you will look back when you are in the business of life and wish you hadn't taken it for granted. Be kind and look out for family, friends or neighbours who need extra help and follow the government's advice. Stay at home, and stay safe.

Belfast Telegraph