Covid memorial at St Paul’s would be a ‘fitting place of reflection’: Boris Johnson backs monument campaign as woman who lost her father to the virus raises £24,000
- Boris Johnson backed plans for a national Covid memorial at St Paul’s Cathedral
- The Prime Minister told the Commons it would be a ‘fitting place of reflection’
- Announced creation of commission to examine ways to remember the victims
Boris Johnson yesterday backed plans for a national Covid memorial at St Paul’s Cathedral, telling the Commons it would be a ‘fitting place of reflection’.
The Prime Minister announced the creation of a commission to examine ways for the nation to remember the victims of the ‘gravest crisis since the Second World War’.
And he specifically praised plans backed by the Daily Mail to create a magnificent memorial at the cathedral in central London.
Mr Johnson told MPs there was a ‘solemn duty on our whole United Kingdom to come together and cherish the memories of those who have been lost’. He said he had been ‘deeply moved’ by a late night visit to the Covid memorial wall mural opposite Parliament earlier this month.
He added: ‘And I wholeheartedly support the plan for a memorial in St Paul’s Cathedral, which will provide a fitting place of reflection in the heart of our capital.’
Boris Johnson (pictured) yesterday backed plans for a national Covid memorial at St Paul’s Cathedral, telling the Commons it would be a ‘fitting place of reflection’
The Remember Me campaign backed by the Mail plans to produce a multi-faith memorial at St Paul’s, one of the symbols of Britain’s defiance against the Blitz.
The new commission will look at whether local communities in different parts of the country also want to create their own memorials.
And it will examine the case for a national day of remembrance for the 127,640 people who have lost their lives. It would probably be held on March 23 – the anniversary of the start of the first lockdown.
Plans could also include the planting of a new national forest.
Mr Johnson yesterday said that the work of the commission would be ‘above party politics’.
The PM said the plans would aim to ‘honour the heroism of those who saved lives and the courage of frontline workers who kept our country going, celebrate the genius of those who created the vaccines, and commemorate the small acts of kindness and the daily sacrifice of millions who stayed at home, buying time for our scientists to come to our rescue’.
He said the commission would work with the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to ‘preserve the spirit which has sustained us in the gravest crisis since the Second World War, resolving to go forwards together, and to build back better’.
The make up of the commission and its precise remit will be set out in the coming weeks.
The permanent memorial in St Paul’s will feature an oak portico with the words ‘Remember Me’ engraved in several languages. It will be open free of charge to people of all faiths and none.
Inside, a chapel will display screens showing a virtual book of remembrance which organisers hope will bear the names of those lost to the virus. The initiative has the support of all main political party leaders, as well as senior figures from all the main faiths.
Donations have come in from more than 7,000 generous Mail readers – raising more than £260,000 towards the £2.3million target.
As much as £98,000 of this has arrived in cheques while more than £165,000 has been donated on the cathedral’s Crowdfunder page.
And generous pledges from businessman Mohamed Mansour, entrepreneur Matt Moulding, Apprentice star Lord Sugar and philanth- ropists Sir Michael Hintze and Sir Tom Hunter have seen more than £1million raised since the Mail started its drive.
£24k drive inspired by my grief for Dad
By Rachel Halliwell and Inderdeep Bains
A grieving daughter who lost her father to Covid has raised £24,000 for the Remember Me campaign to create a lasting tribute to all those lost in the pandemic.
Annette Allen, 60, began her fundraising with the Yellow Hearts To Remember movement after losing her father Ray Maskell, 88.
The movement was founded by David Gompertz, who was widowed by the virus, with a simple idea – for the bereaved to display a yellow heart as an act of remembrance to those taken by the virus.
Mrs Allen, a teaching assistant from Bournemouth, had been left devastated after not being able to visit her father before he died in a nursing home in April last year and found great comfort in the group.
Wanting to honour his memory, she started raising money online via Crowdfunder by sending out yellow heart pin badges in return for a donation to the Remember Me campaign.
Today the mother-of-one has raised just over £24,000 towards the national memorial at St Paul’s Cathedral which will feature a grand oak portico engraved with the words ‘Remember Me’.
Annette Allen, 60, lost her father Ray Maskell, 88, and has raised £24,000 for the Remember Me campaign to create a lasting tribute to all those lost in the pandemic
Together with more than £1million raised by the Daily Mail’s campaign and funds already collected by St Paul’s, it means that almost £1.5million has been pledged towards the £2.3million tribute.
‘It felt like we lost Dad twice over – first to dementia and then to Covid,’ Mrs Allen said. ‘The pain of not being able to comfort him in his final moments was incredibly difficult to carry. I needed a way to tell the world he had gone, that he mattered and would always be remembered.’
She added: ‘Dad was born in London, and he was very fond of St Paul’s Cathedral, visiting it often… the idea of him being honoured there means so much.
‘This memorial means that he’ll be more than just a statistic to history too – he’ll be remembered in a place that was already in his heart. That gives me great pride and is a huge comfort.’
Wanting to honour his memory, she started raising money online via Crowdfunder by sending out yellow heart pin badges in return for a donation to the Remember Me campaign
The Yellow Heart To Remember movement was created by retired medical scientist Mr Gompertz, 84, after he lost wife Sheila to the virus last year.
His idea was for those who had lost someone to Covid-19 to put a yellow heart in a window of their home as an act of remembrance. A year on, Yellow Hearts To Remember is a Facebook support group for the grieving with more than 7,000 members and Mr Gompertz is backing the Remember Me campaign.
‘Our Facebook group is transitory in its nature – a place where people can share how they feel in a particular moment – whereas a memorial is a permanent statement of love for those we have lost, and something that can be physically visited,’ the grandfather from Birmingham said.
‘I was very pleased to be asked to get involved with the Remember Me campaign. In the years to come that’s something people will always need.
‘This is a place where people can come and share how they’re feeling and their memories of the loved ones they lost.
‘We’re not a religious family, but St Paul’s is a beautiful building that transcends religion.’ Mr Gompertz’s wife Sheila, a retired computer scientist, died aged 83 in a care home in April last year.
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