12 bits of happy news in 2020 you may have missed

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You could be forgiven for thinking that there was no happy news in 2020. But, we’re here to tell you there was! Buried under all of the news of lockdowns and travel bans, were little nuggets of joy. We’ve dug out 12 of them to give you a smile this festive period.

2020 wasn’t all bad…

1. Tesco removed 67 million pieces of plastic from stores

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Tesco has replaced plastic-wrapped multipacks with plastic-free multibuy offers on their tinned food. With 183,000 tinned multipacks bought at Tesco every day, this move will eliminate 350 tonnes of plastic from the environment every year. Good on you Tesco!

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2. Zoom is lifting its 40 minute limit over the Christmas period, allowing more people to connect with loved ones for longer

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Video calling has been more important than ever this year, and Christmas is set to be no different. With tier rules restricting contact between families and friends, Christmas day Zoom calls could be a social lifeline for many. By lifting their usual 40 minute limit on calls, Zoom is doing their part to help loved ones socialise safely this festive season. Comfy Christmas pajamas on the bottom, festive fanciness on top…  and don’t forget to take yourself off mute!

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3. Footballer Marcus Rashford wins fight for free school meals for children

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The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on household incomes across the UK. In a poll run by ‘The Food Foundation’, it was found that 200,000 children were missing meals. Manchester United player Marcus Rashford succeeded in pushing the government to extend their provision of free meals for school children this year. And he was, quite rightly, awarded an MBE this year for his support of vulnerable children during the Covid-19 crisis. How’s that for a bit of happy news in 2020? It couldn’t be more well deserved, well done Marcus!

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4. The Black Lives Matter movement swept the globe and changed lives

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The killing of George Floyd by a white police officer in the US this year was the wake-up call we all needed. The rallying cry of the #BlackLivesMatter movement swept the globe, with people everywhere passionately protesting for racial equality. There is no place for prejudice in today’s world and we all need to do better.  There is still a lot of work to be done, but the growth of the #BlackLivesMatter movement is a positive step in the right direction. In the fight for equality, we must all make a conscious to educate ourselves, to learn and to grow.

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5. Seven baby mountain gorillas have been born in Uganda this year (twice as many as 2019!)

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Uganda has declared a ‘baby boom’ this year, with seven baby mountain gorillas born between January and September. Compared to only three births during the whole of 2019, this is a fantastic bit of happy news in 2020! With just over 1,000 mountain gorillas left in the world, this increase in population is a brilliant sign for Ugandan conservation efforts. If you think 2021 calls for an adventure to top all others, why not meet them for yourself on a post-pandemic gorilla-tracking holiday in Uganda? 

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6. Africa was declared free of wild polio in a ‘public health triumph’


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In August, the World Health Organisation officially declared that Africa had defeated wild polio. In 1996 it was estimated that a staggering 75,000 children were paralysed by the virus. With 2020 marking four years since the last recorded case in the continent, the WHO have declared this a ‘public health triumph’. In a year dominated by negative health news, this is definitely a positive piece of happy news in 2020 to hold on to.

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7. Captain Sir Tom Moore won the hearts of the nation

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Without a doubt, one of the biggest pieces of happy news in 2020 was our nation falling in love with war veteran Tom Moore – now ‘Captain Sir Tom Moore’, quite rightly! In the midst of a pandemic, when most of us were horizontal on our sofas surrounded by chocolate wrappers and shame, 99-year-old Tom Moore laced up his walking shoes and decided to walk 100 laps of his garden for charity. What started as a fun family fundraising idea, soon catapulted into a national rallying cry. Bringing people together in support of the NHS, this incredible man raised more than £32 million for NHS charities and bagged himself a well-deserved knighthood in the process. Truly, the absolute best of British.

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8. Ikea published the recipe for their famous meatballs to make lockdown a little tastier for many

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Our favourite flat-pack furniture store just moved even higher up in our good books. For many, the delicacy of the IKEA Swedish meatball is a highlight of any home shopping trip. These little bites of delicious energy invigorate and propel you around as you obediently follow the directional arrows. This year, Ikea finally shared their secret with the world this year, releasing a flat-pack recipe – obviously – in an attempt to make lockdown that little bit tastier… We know what we’re having for dinner.

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9. An ‘unprecedented’ number of blue whales have been spotted off the coast of Antarctica

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After only two of these colossal animals were recorded in the area in 2018, an incredible 55 blue whales were spotted by scientists off the coast of Antarctica this year. This massive increase suggests that the animals are returning to their old feeding grounds. Being critically endangered, this huge increase in sightings is a hugely important piece of happy news in 2020 for our world and its waters.

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10. Two otters find love in lockdown

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This fairytale lockdown love story between two lonely otters has got to be one of our favourite bits of happy news in 2020.  After Pumpkin lost her elderly partner Eric, the team at Sealife in Scarborough reached out to other sanctuaries in the hope of finding her a new mate. That’s where Harris comes in. Also, lonely after losing his partner, he moved to Scarborough and the hairy pair hit it off right away. It turns out 2020 was most definitely lucky for some.

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11. Writer starts a pandemic pen pal project to brighten strangers’ days

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New Yorker writer and editor, Rachel Syme, started Penpalooza this year after recognising letters as a way for people to feel more connected during lockdown. After a call-out on Instagram, the initiative has grown from an initial 100 participants to 4,000 people all across the world. In a year dominated by digital communication, Rachel’s idea is a reminder of the magic of physical post. The excitement and feeling of connection that can be felt when opening a hand-written note, drawing or gift is unparalleled. Combating loneliness, fighting against distance and promoting good feelings all around, we all need a bit of that after this year.

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12. 90 year old in the UK becomes the first person in the whole world to have approved Covid vaccination

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And finally, possibly the most relevant piece of happy news in 2020 right now. A 90-year-old UK woman became the first person in the world to have the approved Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. As we know all too well, there’s still a long road ahead with bumps and teething problems almost certain. However, thanks to the incredible work of these scientists, this vaccine has gone from conception to approval in just 10 months – a process that usually takes 10 years!  This is a phenomenal achievement and a piece of news that calls for cautious optimism as we move into 2021. It’s looking very hopeful that this is the light on the horizon we’ve all been waiting for.

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So there you have it, 12 pieces of happy news in 2020 that deserve to be shouted about. It’s been a tough year all around, there’s no denying that. But, we’ve made it through, and plenty of good has happened along the way. Here’s to 2021, a year full of friends, family, travel and everything else we’ve missed this year.