THEY are poignant tributes to those lost during the pandemic and have been penned my grieving relatives and loved ones.

Dozens of I remember passages have been collected during the past few months as part of the creation of Scotland’s Covid memorial.

Some recall the last time someone spoke to a loved one, often just a simple first name is offered, while others have remembered profound moments during the pandemic.

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And now a collection of these will be buried at one of the main focal points as work is due to get under way for I remember: Scotland’s Covid memorial at Glasgow’s Pollok Country Park next month.

How the Riverside Grove site of I remember: Scotlands Covid memorial will look

How the Riverside Grove site of I remember: Scotland's Covid memorial will look

The Herald is leading a campaign to create a memorial as a fitting tribute to those who have been lost during the pandemic and we are currently raising funds towards our target of £233,500. Thanks to generous donations from the public, entrepreneurs Sir Tom Hunter, Lord Willie Haughey and John Watson OBE, and the Scottish Government, we have passed the halfway mark and have raised more than £136,000. We also received a generous donation of £10,000 from the Freemasons of Glasgow.

Last year we appointed artist and poet Alec Finlay to design and create the memorial. He reached out to people using the I remember form, a single sentence which reflects how a person thinks or feels, and we received hundreds of responses. They will be a key element of the memorial in the grounds of the stunning Pollok Country Park.

Herald Covid memorial artist Alec Finlay pictured in Pollok Country Park. Photograph by Colin Mearns.

Herald Covid memorial artist Alec Finlay pictured in Pollok Country Park. Photograph by Colin Mearns.

The memorial will involve 50 oak tree supports linked by focal points brought together through the idea of a memorial walk. The I remember audio is an integral part of the memorial and will be accessed through a QR code on the supports.

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We were delighted when Scots actor Robert Carlyle agreed to become involved in the project and he took the time to record the audio for the I remembers.

Mr Carlyle was approached by The Herald to become involved in the memorial project and he said he was honoured to be asked to read these memories.

Robert Carlyle was moved by the poignant I remember messages

Robert Carlyle was moved by the poignant I remember messages

Next month as work is due to begin installing the first of the wooden supports at what will become known as the Riverside Grove, a venue close to Pollok House, boxes filled with I remembers will be buried at a private ceremony with some families invited to witness this poignant moment.

Our artist Alec Finlay said: “Every contribution to the memorial has been painted and scanned for the website. I have given the digital record to the National Library of Scotland, where they will be preserved in perpetuity. It seemed right to bury the artworks in the park so they belong, and we’ve made archival boxes that will live in a stone-lined chamber.

"One of the things I’ve learnt as an artist is that a work of art is more than its physical characteristics – it is a story that people come to know and share, and that can include elements that are hidden from view. The artwork also includes the audio, read by Robert Carlyle, which people can listen to as the walk in the park, or while they are resting on the benches."

Jim Russell with fiancee Connie McCready. Jim Russell, 51, from Glasgow, died May 4, 2020.

Jim Russell with fiancee Connie McCready. Jim Russell, 51, from Glasgow, died May 4, 2020.

Covid memorial campaign supporter Connie McCready, whose fiancé Jim Russell died from Covid in May 2020, said this felt like an extremely important moment for families who have lost a loved one or been involved in the I remember project. A series of workshops to help create I remember passages were held last year including ones with bereaved families.

Ms McCready said: “It does feel that we are on the verge of something very poignant here. To think that our memories of loved ones that many of us have written down will be buried at the site of the permanent memorial is very emotional.

“For me personally I think it will be very emotional as the memorial and the riverside location will be our permanent place to remember partners, husbands, wives, and parents. This is what so many of us have longed for and it is now beginning to feel real.”

As the second anniversary of the first national lockdown approaches next month, Ms McCready can’t believe it is nearly two years on since her beloved Jim died. The couple had been looking forward to their wedding in June 2020, but Jim caught Covid early on in the pandemic. The 51-year-old was taken to hospital in Glasgow and was transferred to Aberdeen to receive specialist care, but died on May 4, 2020.

Mr Russell was a close friend of a director who works for the Harry Clarke Group of companies, based in Hillington, Renfrewshire. It was through the company's managing director Richard Clarke that a £5000 donation was made towards the campaign and kick-started our public fund.

Ms McCready added: “It might be two years on but the pain does not go away. I still find it hard to accept that Jim has gone, but now people, myself included, will have somewhere to go to remember.”