SCOTLAND'S Makar Jackie Kay has offered to write a poem which could have a place in The Herald's memorial garden to coronavirus victims.

Ms Kay is backing our campaign to create a Garden of Remembrance and believes it will be a place to reflect and remember and a place for contemplation.

And Glasgow’s Poet Laureate Jim Carruth made a heart-warming offer of a creative element to the garden plans with the donation of poem penned during lockdown.

Our vision is to create a memorial garden as a tribute to Scots who have lost their lives to coronavirus. We want to build a cairn with a stone representing the life of everyone who has died from the virus.

Read more: Herald campaign: Memorial garden for Scots coronavirus victims takes step forward with offer of site at city park

Ms Kay,who was appointed Makar in 2016, said she fully supported the idea of creating a memorial garden to pay our homage and respect to those people in Scotland who have lost their lives to Covid 19.

She added: “The garden will offer families and friends a healing place to go to, a place that will bring some comfort and solace. It will be a place to reflect and remember and a place for contemplation.

“It is important to me that poetry should be part of that space and as Makar I will try and find the words to express our collective grief. I have always believed, as I wrote in a poem for a lost friend that, The dead don’t go till you do loved ones, The dead are still here holding our hands. And I will be trying to find words that offer that kind of comfort.”

Ms Kay's poetry collections include Darling: New and Selected Poems, and Fiere, which reflects on her Nigerian and Scottish heritage. Her memoir Red Dust Road, which she has called a ‘love letter’ to her white adoptive parents, won the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book of the Year Award in 2011.

Mr Carruth drew on his experiences during lockdown to write the poem The Long Bench which he says came naturally to him. He has offered the poem for use in the memorial garden.

He said: “I think a garden is a wonderful idea and would be all about a place to rest and escape. Some people have been on a more painful journey than others, but lockdown is something we have all been through.

“When I read about the campaign it really struck a chord and I hope the poem will be useful. There is a positive message in it that we are moving towards something more positive. I saw people offering their help in different ways and I thought what can I do. Well I do poetry, so that’s what I can offer.”

Read more: Herald campaign: Digging deep to help The Herald's memorial garden fund

Drawing on what he had been feeling and thinking during lockdown, Mr Carruth said the poem just came to him.

“I really didn’t have to think about it. The poem came to me very easily. It has been well received and I even got an email from someone in Canada saying how they had enjoyed it.

The then Lord Provost, Councillor Sadie Docherty announced the appointment of Mr Carruth as Poet Laureate at a ceremony in Glasgow City Chambers. The appointment was part of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games legacy.

Mr Carruth is the third Poet Laureate of Glasgow following Edwin Morgan and Liz Lochhead.

Glasgow’s Lord Provost Phil Braat said of the poem: “The Long Bench is a wonderful poem and an important contribution to the cultural life of the city during this difficult period."

Earlier this week we announced the launch of a steering group to take the memorial garden project forward. Four initial members have been announced, Rev Neil Galbraith, of Cathcart Old Parish Church, Fiona Arnott-Barron, chief operating officer of Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland, Ally McLaws, who runs his own media and business development consultancy and is a former NHS communications director, and The Herald Magazine’s garden writer Dave Allan.

So far a public fundraising campaign to create a fitting memorial to those who have lost their lives has raised more than £1800. And we have been offered at site at Pollok Country Park by Glasgow City Council.

To donate go to: You can also send donations via post to The Herald Garden of Remembrance Campaign, Herald & Times, 125 Fullarton Drive, Glasgow G32 8FG. Cheques should be made payable to The Herald.

If you want to get in touch, email us

The long bench by Jim Carruth

For the times ahead

when we will be

as if at either end

of the long bench

where distance kept

is love’s measure

and death dances

the space between

when words alone

are not enough

and queued memories

reach out to touch

let longing be a store

of nut and seed

that grows each day

in strange hibernation

readying for its end -

the sharing of the feast.