Memorials to Remember the Impact of Covid Set to Be Unveiled
Communities are set to come together to reflect on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and honour those who sadly lost their lives with the unveiling of six memorials across South Tyneside.
South Tyneside is the latest among many areas across the country to install permanent structures paying tribute to covid victims and acknowledging the extraordinary efforts of local communities, from key workers to volunteers, at the height of the crisis.
Latest data shows there has been nearly 700 people died with covid in South Tyneside since March 2020.
Councillor Tracey Dixon, Leader of South Tyneside Council, said: "When covid hit in 2020 and so many people were losing their lives, we said we wanted to create a meaningful and lasting memorial and provide a special place for people to remember their loved ones.
"Our communities also united to provide much needed support and comfort to the many people suffering loss, helping them through those dark and difficult times.
"Therefore, these memorials not only honour those who died, they recognise the enormous sacrifices made by volunteers and key workers who came together to provide care and support to our most vulnerable residents and ensured the continued delivery of essential services.
"These memorial stones acknowledge the impact of the pandemic on the people of South Tyneside while acting as a lasting tribute to the amazing resilience of our communities. They also mark this significant and challenging event in our world history."
The memorials will be unveiled at 11am, on Sunday 12 March, at:
- South Marine Park, South Shields;
- West Park Jarrow;
- Fountains Park, Hebburn;
- Cornthwaite Park, Whitburn;
- Front Street, Cleadon (Adjacent to Cleadon Village Community Room);
- Boldon Colliery (Land between Gibson Court and Hubert Street).
The unveiling events will involve a short service, including prayers, poems, readings and music reflecting on the pandemic, the sterling efforts of key workers and commemorating those who sadly died.
The inscriptions on each of the 5ft granite plinths reflect the experiences of local area and were determined by local people and community groups in a collaboration with the Council's creative partners, The Cultural Spring.
Emma Horsman, Project Director at The Cultural Spring, said: "We've been delighted to work with South Tyneside Council on this important project, recognising the lasting impact that Covid has had in communities.
"Our first involvement was commissioning Lesley Wood to start the process of engagement with local people. We wanted to understand how communities and neighbourhoods could commemorate what has happened during the last three years.
"Lesley led these sessions sensitively, respectfully and tactfully as we were aware how traumatic the pandemic has been for so many people."
Following the consultation, artists were invited to help develop the wording for the memorial inscriptions, with Claire Finlay and Lindsey Grieves chosen by a community panel to lead creative workshops.
Key themes emerging from the community engagement process included the impact on people's physical and mental health, on education and employment as well as feelings of isolation and loneliness, loss of confidence, emotion and loss.
People also acknowledged the kindness, support and community spirit, taking up new hobbies, getting to know neighbours and clapping together, rainbows, the importance of family, finding new ways to communicate and connecting with nature.
In addition to the memorial unveilings, South Tyneside Council will consider the conferral of the Freedom of the Borough to local NHS, care services and key workers at an Extraordinary Meeting of Borough Council taking place at South Shields Town Hall on Thursday 9 March.
The honour - the highest the Council can award - is being conferred in recognition of their contribution to keeping local people safe and ensuring the delivery of essential services during the height of the pandemic.
The formal conferral will be live streamed on YouTube, see .
A smaller copy of the Scroll will be made available to any key worker to collect from the Town Hall after the event.