IT has robbed families of loved ones and precious time they would have spent together. Coronavirus in Scotland has claimed the lives of more than 2270 people.

The global pandemic has taken parents, grandparents, husbands, wives and partners before their time. And for many the heartache was made all the worse for not being able to hold their hand or be at their bedsides.

Coronavirus has torn people apart and cruelly split up families which is why today The Herald is launching its Garden of Remembrance Campaign to create a place where people can simply sit and think of their relatives.

We want to build a memorial cairn to remember every single victim of coronavirus in Scotland. And we are looking for a volunteer army to help create it.

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Our aim is to create a space for friends and families to go to whether it's to be alone with their thoughts or together as they remember loved ones. It’s Scotland memorial and a chance to reunite people in grief.

Rev Neil Galbraith, of Cathcart Old Parish Church, in Glasgow's South Side, has had the hard task of leading funerals during lockdown to much smaller groups of people under restrictions.

Today he backed our campaign and believes it is vital we mark the lives of the victims of Covid-19 in Scotland with a memorial.

He said: "There needs to be somewhere where people can go and sit on a bench or lay a bunch of flowers. A cairn is the perfect thing to create - it is part of Scottish culture. A stone is something which will never go away, it will never disappear and people can take strength from that. This will give people physical support. I don't think you need anything else other than this and a place where people can go to remember - and we will remember."

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Several years ago Rev Galbraith created a cairn in his church which is a lasting memorial to soldiers who died in the Gulf War.

He said: “We did something for the families of soldiers who had died in action. I took the idea of a stone, a pebble and a gemstone. I’m talking about a red stone which is rough in your hand if squeezed tightly, a pebble which is slightly smoother but still hard if you hold it, and then a gem which is shiny and you can begin to see yourself in it again. These represented the stages of grief with the first stone being sore to the second slightly easier but still hurts to a gem when things begin to get slightly easier.”

Scotland is sadly no stranger to having to pick up the pieces after losing people in tragic circumstances and memorial gardens or statues have provided some place for grieving relatives to gather.

It was July 6 1988 that the world’s worst offshore accident occurred when a series of explosions ripped through the Occidental platform. 167 men lost their lives and only 62 survived as the inferno spread across the North Sea.

In 1991 a memorial to those who lost their lives was opened a Hazlehead Park in Aberdeen. The bronze memorial was created by Scottish artist Sue Jane Taylor. It was unveiled by the Queen Mother and the event was attended by survivors, their families, the bereaved families and rescuers.

In Lockerbie's Dryfesdale cemetery, there is a garden of remembrance for the 270 people who died when flight Pan Am Flight 103 was blown out of the sky on December 21, 1988. The main memorial is set into the wall and is composed of three stone tablets, the centre one being the tallest, set on stone blocks.

The names are in six columns with the lettering in black. Three stones of remembrance are set several yards in front of the main memorial with the inscription on the centre stone, and names on the stones either side.

And in Dunblane a memorial in the town’s cemetery has the names of the victims murdered by gunman Thomas Hamilton. Sixteen children and teacher Gwen Mayor died when Hamilton opened fire on a gym class at Dunblane Primary School on March 13 1996.

Glasgow City Council chiefs today said they wanted to become involved in our campaign.

Council leader Susan Aitken said: "Even when things start to approach normality we can never forget those we have lost. We need to make space for people to reflect and remember but we need to do it in a way that reflects that new normal. It would be fitting for Glasgow to play a part in finding that space.”

Lord Provost Phil Braat said he hoped this would help people who are mourning the loss of loved ones.

He said: “The world will be very different after this pandemic is over. People have not been able to mourn in the way we are used to and I hope a quiet place where they can go to remember can be part of the healing process."

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