A SINGLE red rose is placed on a black wooden box with the message of I remember written on it.

It was laid to remember a loved one lost to Covid, and alongside others, was buried with four boxes of poignant messages at the site of what will become Scotland’s Covid memorial.

The moving ceremony took place at Pollok Country Park yesterday and marked in significant moment for The Herald’s campaign to create a fitting memorial to those lost during the pandemic or affected it by. Almost £140,000 has been raised towards the project through a public fund.

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Looking on as red and cream roses were placed in the burial kist were families who had lost partners, spouses and parents and those living with the ongoing affects of long Covid.

The I remembers contained in the boxes were gathered for a project led by our Covid memorial artist Alec Finlay and will become part of the site where a series of tree supports will be installed to create a focal point which will become known as the Riverside Grove. Other supports will be placed in areas throughout the park to give people the chance to create a memorial walk.

 

HeraldScotland: A series of boxes with 'I remember' messages were buried at Scotland's Covid memorial. Artist Alec Finlay with Peter McMahon of Covid 19 Families Scotland. Photo by Gordon Terris.A series of boxes with 'I remember' messages were buried at Scotland's Covid memorial. Artist Alec Finlay with Peter McMahon of Covid 19 Families Scotland. Photo by Gordon Terris.

 

While the memories contained in the boxes have been buried, they will all still be accessible on a dedicated website and will also be archived by the National Library of Scotland. I remember was written in four languages, English, Gaelic, Urdu and Polish and other world languages will feature as part of the memorial.

 

A red rose was placed on a box with I remember messages buried at Pollok Country Park.

A red rose was placed on a box with 'I remember' messages buried at Pollok Country Park.

 

Editor Donald Martin said this was a poignant moment in the Covid memorial campaign.

“Just over two years ago the first Covid death was recorded in Scotland, sadly since then thousands of us have been affected by Covid in some way whether losing loved ones, colleagues, friends or even just not being able to be there for people who needed us,” he said.

“The Herald captured those kinds of headlines but we could see that there was a dear, dear need to create a special place for people to come and have a quiet moment to reflect. That was the basis of The Herald memorial appeal and it has evolved since then with several partners and consultations with families to make sure that this was a special place.

“This is a very important moment as we capture some of the I remembers which have been offered. I think this will become a fitting place for everyone who has been affected.”

 

Boxes with I remember messages buried in Pollok Country Park. From left, Lord Provost of Glasgow Philip Braat, artist Alec Finlay and Donald Martin, editor of The Herald. Photo by Gordon Terris.

Boxes with 'I remember' messages buried in Pollok Country Park. From left, Lord Provost of Glasgow Philip Braat, artist Alec Finlay and Donald Martin, editor of The Herald. Photo by Gordon Terris.

 

Soon after the campaign was launched in May 2020, Glasgow City Council stepped forward with the offer to host the memorial in the grounds of Pollok Country Park and we have been great support by them and Lord Provost Philip Braat who has been involved in the project from its infancy.

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The Lord Provost hoped that with first step in creating the national memorial there will be a place for quiet contemplation for people affected by the pandemic.

“There is no better place than in the quiet solitude of Pollok Country Park to reflect on those we have lost,” the Lord Provost said.

He also thanked The Herald for starting the campaign and Mr Finlay for the I remember gesture in the project, adding: “It is important that we all have the opportunity to reflect but also to put our memories of the past two years in the kist. I also want to thank the families and those who couldn’t attend at this time, for their tenacity, endurance and for supporting the national Covid memorial project. Without that support it would never have been able to happen.”

Our Covid memorial artist Mr Finlay reflected on what this time of year means to people before asking those gathered to lay a rose in the kist along with the I remembers and along with his colleague Ken Cockburn, read several of the emotional I remembers. Some of the I remembers include: I remember when nobody had died; I remember writing a farewell letter to my family just in case and being surprised by how much happiness I recalled, and I remember mum eating every meal alone at her kitchen table.

Mr Finlay said: “This time in March is when our lives changed – people lost loved ones or developed long Covid. It is a very modest beginning today but something I have always been interested in that a work of art is a paradox. You can make a public work of art, bury it and the reason that works is that art isn’t just physical objects. There is a story. You are witnesses of the beginning of the memorial here. We give memories into this place of safe-keeping in the earth, but they will all be preserved. It felt that they would live here.”

 

An event was held to mark the burial of I remembers. Guests included members of Long Covid Scotland, Covid 19 Families Scotland, and Glasgow Lord Provost Philip Braat.

 

The I remembers are an integral part of the project and will be accessible to those visiting the site through a QR code. It will link through to audio which was recorded by Trainspotting Robert Carlyle who gave up his time to record the powerful messages. He too had been affected by Covid following the loss of a friend and said he was honoured to be involved in the project.

Work is due to at the site later this month and next week a minute silence will be held at the Riverside Grove site at 12noon on Wednesday, March 23, to mark the national day of reflection.

For some people yesterday’s ceremony felt like it was the first time that they had been given recognition for what they had been through.

Chris White contracted Covid in September 2020, but it was the weeks and months after which have changed his life as he battles with long Covid.

He said: "I think this highlights what everyone has been through. This is recognition. It makes you remember everything that has been taken away."

Connie McCready lost her fiance Jim Russell to Covid in May 2020 and for her the event was moving.

"It's very sad and poignant, but important that we now have this permanent site to remember," she said.

To donate go to The Herald memorial garden go to gofundme.com/ herald-garden-of-remembrance. You can also send donations via post to The Herald Garden of Remembrance Campaign, Herald & Times, 125 Fullarton Drive, Glasgow, G32 8FG.