As we reach the close of 2020, let’s take a moment to look back on a year we’ll never forget. A year that’s exhibited unimaginable, destructive and damaging world events, from devastating forest fires in Australia and North America right through to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has taken more than 1.5 million lives to date and forced changes to the lives of humankind across the globe.
In the US, the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, among other unlawful killings by police, sparked protests around the world and inspired a long-overdue larger Black Lives Matter conversation about racial injustice. Democracy “survived” a US election that exposed the cavernous division of a nation, and we can finally prepare to wave goodbye to the most controversial US president in history.
While 2020 may be a year that most want to forget, there’s also been immeasurable kindness, snippets of good and some societal changes that could benefit us more than we realise. Public love for the NHS was demonstrated by rainbows drawn in coloured pencil as doctors, nurses and other key workers selflessly put their lives on the line to guide us through the greatest health crisis in modern history. As the rainbows faded, community spirit blossomed. Families, friends and neighbours rallied to support suffering small businesses, donate and volunteer their time to those who needed it, and the selfless acts of individuals like the 100-year-old veteran Captain Sir Tom Moore raised millions for NHS charities.
Far too much happened this year to document it all here but these powerful pictures nevertheless serve as a reminder of a year we’ll never forget, and a year we certainly never expected when we popped the cork on 31st December 2019.
Here’s to 2021.
General view of the Dunn Road fire on 10th January 2020 in Mount Adrah, New South Wales (NSW), Australia. At this point, there were roughly 135 fires burning in NSW, 50 of which were uncontained. Twenty people had died, about 1,995 homes destroyed and another 816 damaged in the state.
Workers of the European Parliament lowered the British flag from the row of flags of European Union member states outside the European Parliament shortly before midnight on 31st January 2020 in Brussels, Belgium.
A man crosses an empty highway on 3rd February 2020 in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, where the novel coronavirus was detected for the first time just before Christmas. Before long, cases of COVID-19 had been reported in countries all over the world.
Director Bong Joon-ho, winner of the Original Screenplay, International Feature Film, Directing and Best Picture awards for Parasite, in the press room during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on 9th February 2020 in Hollywood, California.
Emergency workers in protective clothing exit the Diamond Princess cruise ship at Daikoku Pier. Three thousand, seven hundred people on board were diagnosed with coronavirus by the time of this photograph on 10th February 2020, taken in Yokohama, Japan.
Queen Elizabeth II delivers a special address to the nation on 5th April 2020 during the countrywide lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Valerie Cloke, watching on, hadn't left her home since the nationwide lockdown began on 23rd March.
Thousands of birthday cards for Captain Tom Moore's 100th birthday on 30th April, pictured displayed in the hall of Bedford School, closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in Bedford, England on 29th April 2020. Captain Tom raised more than £13 million for NHS charities by walking 100 laps of his garden.
The temporary Dragon's Heart hospital within the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales on 20th April 2020. In the spring of 2020, facilities across the UK from theatres to sports stadiums were converted into field hospitals capable of treating COVID-19 patients in intensive care.
The Himalayan mountains are seen from Kathmandu during a complete nationwide lockdown in Nepal on 10th May 2020. The lockdown resulted in decreased air pollution levels in Kathmandu Valley, which consistently ranks among the most polluted cities in the world.
Michelle Grant (right) hugs her mother, Mary Grace Sileo, through a plastic drop cloth hung on a homemade clothes line during Memorial Day Weekend on 24th May 2020 in Wantagh, New York. It was the first time they had physical contact of any kind since the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown started in late February.
Boris Johnson’s (now former) advisor Dominic Cummings arrives home on 25th May 2020 to reporters. On 31st March, Downing Street confirmed to journalists that Dominic Cummings was self-isolating with COVID-19 symptoms at his home in north London, however, news emerged that he was actually hundreds of miles away at his parents' house in the city of Durham.
Aerial view of protestors gathered near the makeshift memorial in honour of George Floyd marking one week since his death, on 1st June 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The statue of Edward Colston is pushed into the River Avon in Bristol, England on 7th June 2020. Colston was a slave trader of the late 17th century who played a major role in the development of the city of Bristol.
A woman and child buy ice cream as sea mist blows across the beach at Southport on 15th June 2020 in Southport, England. The British government relaxed coronavirus lockdown laws significantly from Monday 15th June, allowing non-essential shops to open. Places of worship were to allow individual prayers and protective face masks became mandatory on London transport.
The UK experienced a summer heatwave with visitors flocking to the beach at Bournemouth on 25th June 2020. On 23rd June the government announced the further relaxation of social distancing measures, the reopening of hospitality, and household mixing from 4th July. The period between saw huge crowds at Britain's seaside spots.
A large-scale ground mural depicting Breonna Taylor with the text "Black Lives Matter" is seen being painted at Chambers Park on 5th July 2020 in Annapolis, Maryland. The painting honours Taylor, who was shot and killed by members of the Louisville Metro Police Department in March 2020.
Rainbow drawings and messages of support for the NHS cover the windows of a college building opposite St Thomas' Hospital in London, England on 30th July 2020. Figures from the UK's Office for National Statistics revealed on this date that the country has suffered the highest number of excess deaths in Europe during the coronavirus pandemic.
A capsized cruise ship, damaged in the Beirut port blast, on 21st August 2020 in Beirut, Lebanon. The explosion at Beirut's port killed over 200 people, injured thousands and upended countless lives. There has been little visible support from government agencies to help residents clear debris and help the displaced. As residents continued to clean up, Lebanon issued a two-week lockdown starting 21st August after coronavirus cases surged in the aftermath of the explosion.
A participant raises his fist during the Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks protest against racism and police brutality on 28th August 2020 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Anti-racism protestors marched on the US capital after a white police officer's shooting of African American Jacob Blake. The protest also marked the 57th anniversary of civil rights leader Martin Luther King's historic "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered at the Lincoln Memorial.
Shortly before the US presidential election, Madame Tussauds Berlin disposes of its wax figure of Donald Trump on 30th October 2020 in Berlin, Germany. Expecting that Trump will lose the election, Madame Tussauds said they no longer need his statue.
President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris take the stage at the Chase Center to address the nation on 7th November 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. After a contentious election battle against incumbent Republican President Donald Trump and four days of counting the high volume of mail-in ballots in key battleground states due to the coronavirus pandemic, the race was called for Biden.
Margaret Keenan, 90, is the first patient in the world to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at University Hospital, Coventry, administered by nurse May Parsons, at the start of the largest immunisation programme in the UK's history on 8th December 2020. More than 50 hospitals across England were designated as COVID-19 vaccine hubs in the first stage of what will be a lengthy vaccination campaign. NHS staff, over-80s and care home residents are among the first to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine after it received emergency approval from the country's health authorities.