The campaign to create a memorial to those affected by the pandemic was initiated and led by The Herald with a public fund launched to contribute towards the close to £250,000 project.
On Sunday March 3, a minute’s silence will be held at 12noon as part of what has become a national day of reflection.
Members of the public are invited to gather at the Riverside Grove site of the memorial close to Pollok House for 11.45am. Artist Finlay will read I remember passages following the poignant silence.
As part of the final phase of the memorial a book will be launched next month as a photographic journey of the project. A satellite support is also due to be installed in Glasgow’s Maxwell Park which will signpost people to the memorial in nearby Pollok Park.
Artist Finlay said: “University of St Andrews School of International Relations Roxani Krystalli, in her introduction to the visual record of the memorial that we’re publishing writes that: ‘To publicly commemorate an event is to relegate it to the past—or, at a minimum, to acknowledge that enough experience has accumulated to merit public remembrance. The past, however, is a territory in dispute.’
“That has been much in my mind as we approach this coming anniversary, aware that I remember is a living memorial for a history that hasn’t finished with us. The contradictory experiences of reflection and ongoing infection must be faced. It is a stark reality that we have failed to recognise the nature of the virus and chosen to let it spread, which means one in ten people will fall into Long Covid. Therefore the memorial cannot expect to bring closure, in the sense of an ending, and nor does it seek to. But it can be a space of peace in which people can hold their own experiences.”
Last March the day of reflection coincided with the completion of work on the national memorial. The official opening of the first phase of the memorial at the Riverside Grove was held in May 2022.
The Herald led the campaign to create Scotland’s Covid memorial and in 2020 Glasgow City Council stepped forward with the offer of Pollok Park as the location.
Following the setting up of a steering group, artist and poet Finlay was invited to create the memorial and his vision was I remember: Scotland’s Covid Memorial which is a series of wooden tree supports formed from physical poses of people affected by the pandemic.
He also reached out to people to submit an I remember, a single sentence prompt that allowed people to think about how the impact the pandemic had on them and he received hundreds in response.
The supports form memorial walk throughout the park and are linked to audio of I remember passages that were recorded by actor Robert Carlyle and which are accessible from QR codes on supports.
Read more: Scotland’s Covid memorial: Silent walk held to mark opening
It was in May 2020, The Herald launched its campaign for a national memorial when it was recognised through our coverage of the pandemic that at some point those affected would need a place to remember and grieve.
A public fund was set up following an initial £5,000 donation from the Harry Clarke Group of companies, based in Hillington, in memory of Jim Russell, from Glasgow, who died from Covid in May 2020. His fiancée Connie McCready has been a huge supporter of the memorial journey along with many other families who lost loved ones.
greenspace scotland, a charity and social enterprise that promotes green networks and spaces, came on board as our partner and an advisory panel was set up that recommended the appointment of Finlay.
Julie Procter, chief executive of greenspace scotland, said: “Everyone visiting Scotland’s Covid Memorial carries their own personal experience of the pandemic. Walking through the I remember supports in the tranquil and verdant setting of Pollok Country Park offers quiet spaces for remembrance and reflection, as well as a place to remember together on the Day of Reflection. Wherever you are, parks and greenspaces are here for you every day, providing local spaces for reflection, hope and healing.”
In May 2022, we opened the first phase of the memorial. It was attended by the then Deputy First Minister John Swinney, who reflected in his remarks that the concept of the memorial “will help us through the recovery”.
The Herald campaign received generous donations from the Scottish Government, The Hunter Foundation, City Charitable Trust, The Watson Foundation, and the Freemasons of Glasgow.
Anyone wishing to bring flowers on March 3 is asked to be mindful of plastic wrapping given the environment within the park.
The day of reflection movement began through cancer charity Marie Curie, which supported The Herald’s campaign, and is the fourth annual day of reflection. It has been moved to the first Sunday in March in line with the UK Commission on Covid Commemoration’s recommendation.
A spokeswoman said: “It’s a special moment to remember everyone who died during the pandemic. We’re encouraging everyone to take part in a minute’s silence, share the name of who you’re remembering on the day and plan a reflective event or activity.”
Directions and access information to Pollok Country Park can be found here