It was moment for personal reflection but also uniting in grief as a minute's silence was held at the National Covid Memorial.

People gathered for an emotional and poignant event at the recently completed I remember: Scotland's Covid Memorial in Glasgow's Pollok Country Park.

Three years after the first national lockdown and the first deaths to Covid, people stopped to remember loved ones and gathered at a place that has been created to allow for peace and healing.

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Covid memorial artist Alec Finlay led those gathered in a minute's silence at 12noon as a mark of remembrance.

Bailie Thomas Kerr, representing Glasgow’s Lord Provost Jacqueline McLaren, laid a wreath in memory of all those lost to Covid.

HeraldScotland: Heads bowed for a minute's silenceHeads bowed for a minute's silence (Image: Newsquest)

Scotland's Makar Kathleen Jamie joined Mr Finlay to read I remember passages.

Bereaved relatives and people affected by the pandemic gathered to remember loved ones.

Heather Stewart, from New Stevenston, North Lanarkshire, was emotional as she spoke of her husband Stephen who died from Covid in January 2021.

HeraldScotland: Bailie Thomas Kerr, Makar Kathleen Jamie, and memorial artist Alec Finlay at the minute's silenceBailie Thomas Kerr, Makar Kathleen Jamie, and memorial artist Alec Finlay at the minute's silence (Image: Newsquest)

Mrs Stewart, 49, who has developed Long Covid, said: "We didn't get to hold the funeral Stephen deserved or be with family afterwards. That's why it is so important to have this place to remember.

"We had Covid at the same time and isolated in the house. If I'd known then Stephen would have been taken to hospital and not recover I might have done things differently."

Bailie Thomas Kerr, who laid a wreath at the Riverside Grove, said: "Three years on from lockdown might seem like a long time, but it is still very raw for people.

"As a council we were honoured to be able to facilitate this memorial for people to be able to come and remember loved ones."

Makar Kathleen Jamie read a passage from a book by Scots poet Douglas Dunn, Elegies, on anniversaries.

"I thought it was appropriate for today. It was written after the death of Dunn's wife. The first year after losing someone and anniversaries are very reflective times."

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The event 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 last May.

The Herald initiated and led the campaign to create Scotland’s Covid memorial and Glasgow City Council stepped forward with the offer of Pollok Country Park as a location.

HeraldScotland: Peter McMahon and Alec Finlay share an emotional momentPeter McMahon and Alec Finlay share an emotional moment (Image: Newsquest)

Following the setting up of a steering group, artist and poet Mr 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.

After I remember passages were read a memorial walk was led from Riverside Grove along Ash Road to a second focal point at Birch Grove all connected by supports.

HeraldScotland: Lockdown anniversary was a day to remember loved onesLockdown anniversary was a day to remember loved ones (Image: Newsquest)

A total of 40 supports form a 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.

It was in May 2020 The Herald launched a campaign to create Scotland’s Covid memorial. A public fund was set up following an initial £5,000 donation from a company in memory of Jim Russell, from Glasgow, who died from Covid in May 2020.

Glasgow City Council stepped forward with the offer of a home for the memorial in Pollok Country Park.

HeraldScotland: Bailie Thomas Kerr lays a wreath at the National Covid MemorialBailie Thomas Kerr lays a wreath at the National Covid Memorial (Image: Newsquest)

Working with our partner greenspace scotland, a charity and social enterprise that promotes green networks and spaces, an advisory panel was set up that recommended the appointment of artist and poet Mr Finlay.

In May last year, we opened the first phase of the memorial, a series of tree supports that form a memorial walk.

It was attended by Deputy First Minister John Swinney, who reflected in his remarks at the opening of the National Covid Memorial, saying 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.

The National Day of Reflection was initiated by charity Marie Curie who supported us through the project.

Ashley Thomson, Head of Fundraising Scotland, Marie Curie, said:  “Whether sudden or expected the death of someone close to us can be devastating. We will all feel the pain of grief at some point in our lives. The last three years have reminded us how much harder grief is when you are isolated from those whom you care about and those who support you. 

“While life is beginning to return to normal for some people, thousands of people across Scotland are living with the trauma of loss, and not being able to grieve properly. We need to come together to acknowledge this pain and support one another.

“This is why National Day of Reflection is so important. And having Scotland’s covid memorial at Pollok Park, which is a place of solace, is very much needed. It’s peaceful and where bereaved people can reflect and remember their loved ones whenever they need to.”