Families back Covid memorial to honour loved ones in the city

Pedestrians walk past the National Covid Memorial Wall in Westminster, London

The Covid Memorial Wall in London - Credit: PA

Relatives who lost loved ones to Covid believe Norwich should preserve their memory as Evening News-backed efforts for a memorial gather pace.

As government data shows the number of Covid-related deaths in the city has passed the 250 mark, there are growing calls for a permanent tribute to those we have lost.

Officials from St Peter Mancroft Church in Hay Hill are among those who have held talks over a permanent Covid memorial. 

Mile Cross post office worker Kirstie Sutton lost her daughter Kyanna to Covid at the age of 28 in January 2021.

She said: "It would be nice to have somewhere we can go to remember in Norwich city centre.

"I have personally messaged St Peter Mancroft before about having some quiet time somewhere as Kyanna was involved with the choir there."

Kyanna Sutton, right, with mother Kirstie.

Kyanna Sutton, right, with mother Kirstie. - Credit: Kirstie Sutton

Elysia Depledge also lost her mum Jenny Bone at the age of 72 at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in April 2020. 

Being involved with the Bereaved Families for Justice Group, she has seen the impact of the National Covid Memorial Wall on the Albert Embankment in London. 

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Mrs Depledge added: "I do think the idea of a memorial in Norwich is a good one.

"Throughout the pandemic loved ones have often been reduced to numbers rather than really seeing the people they were. Having somewhere locally to remember them would be very positive." 

Norwich councillors from across the political spectrum have also backed the idea of a permanent memorial in the Fine City.

Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group at Norfolk County Council, said: "It is incredibly important to mark this period – those we have lost, the huge effort and sacrifices made by so many in our collective interest and the wonderful spirit of togetherness and community we rediscovered.

Steve Morphew, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Steve Morphew, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

"Every community will have their own memories and want to commemorate in their own way." 

He believes it would be fitting to have a central memorial installation of some type as a focus for the city and county. 

Ben Price, leader of the Green Party group, said: "The idea of having a permanent memorial to help us all collectively reconcile the impacts of Covid, celebrate our heroes in the NHS, and create a focal point for grieving families is something I have envisioned for a while now.

"I’ve been tremendously proud of how the general public remained tolerant, supportive and resolute throughout the dark days of lockdown." 

Green city councillor Ben Price. Picture: Norwich City Council

Green city councillor Ben Price. Picture: Norwich City Council - Credit: Norwich City Council

And Brian Watkins, leader of the Liberal Democrats group, believes a permanent memorial in Norwich would be a "fitting tribute".

He also supports the idea of a small garden of remembrance in the city centre.

Mr Watkins said: "There are probably a range of ideas about how this might best be achieved, and we should listen particularly carefully to families of the bereaved." 

Brian Watkins, Liberal Democrat county councillor for Eaton. Picture: Liberal Democrats.

Brian Watkins, Liberal Democrat county councillor for Eaton. Picture: Liberal Democrats. - Credit: Liberal Democrats

Ian Mackie, vice chairman of the county council's Conservatives group, added:  “I would welcome a memorial if the families of lost ones supported the idea.

"The look and feel of the memorial would need to be sensitive to their loss, and having known people who have sadly died from Covid, this could help bring some peace, quiet reflection and healing."

County councillor Ian Mackie

County councillor Ian Mackie - Credit: Contributed

And a spokeswoman for the city council said the authority will be considering something to remember those who lost their lives to Covid in the coming months.

Norfolk wood sculptors Arnie Barton - known as the Roadside Carver - and Luke Chapman are both on board with the idea of a memorial and would be happy to create it for the city.

Mr Chapman has previously carved memorials for Colney Wood.

Sculptor Luke Chapman (left) and Dwaine Gray, the Senior Ranger at Nowton Park

Sculptor Luke Chapman (left) and Dwaine Gray, the Senior Ranger at Nowton Park - Credit: West Suffolk Council

He said: "My first thoughts are that it would need to be some kind of human form. 

"Some memorial designs can incorporate wildlife or elements of the deceased's character. I would say a community memorial would be about eight to nine feet." 

Arnie Barton, the Road Side Carver 

Arnie Barton, the Road Side Carver - Credit: Arnie Barton

Mr Barton suggested a rainbow on top of a cross which has a metal plate displaying all the names on it as an initial idea.