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'It will be an absolute delight to see him': Anglican priest waiting to see clinically vulnerable son

by Kelly Valencia

Rev Dr John Gillibrand, a vicar in Wales, is soon going to see his son Adam this week, who is autistic, as the government caution for those clinically vulnerable formally ends. 

"It will be an absolute delight to see him," Rev Gillibrand, vicar of Pontarddulais with Penllergaer in the Church in Wales, told Premier. 

"It's been a time of great anxiety for so many of us. But the good news is that I got a call early on this week, and, once I've conducted my Good Friday services, we're meeting up with him on Good Friday. Good Friday is always good, but I would count this as a good Good Friday for that reason."

Although not officially required, Adam has been shielding voluntarily as people with learning difficulties are 6.3 times more likely to die of coronavirus, according to a Public Health England report. 

"Adam never got a shielding letter, as I found out when we were discussing whether or not he'd be able to access the vaccine a few weeks ago. But to all intents and purposes he has been shielding during these last 12 months. 

"He has no idea about the Coronavirus, we will never be able to explain it to him. He's got very little spoken language indeed, but he will know about that disruption to his routine and his daily life," Rev Gillibrand said. 

More than 3.7 million people that are considered clinically extremely vulnerable have been shielding but, given that hospital admissions continue to fall, the Government has decided to change its advice.

Many people have been posting on social media about their encounters with loved ones and Rev Gillibrand has not been any different. He recently tweeted about his upcoming meeting with his son on Friday and said that he has been "moved" by the response. 

"It was lovely to be surrounded by that much love and messages from people who don't know us personally but had seen that. And I'd love to be able to explain to Adam how much love that is out there for him and for his family."

When asked about the impact that this time apart will have on families, Rev Gillibrand said the Government should consider further investment in mental health services. 

"The Government does need to think really hard about its investment in mental health support over these coming months. The church I know will do its part, but it's going to be so important for families as they meet up again. 

"There'll be a lot of joy. But there will also be the memory of enormous pain. And as we all know, pain needs to be pastored in a sensitive and caring way."

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