Six people make their mark on Westerleigh Group’s Covid-19 memorials

Six people make their mark on Westerleigh Group’s Covid-19 memorials

by Hannah Tandy Westerleigh News

Six people have been chosen to make their mark in history after their designs were chosen to be etched onto Covid-19 memorials at crematoria all over the country.

Westerleigh Group, the UK’s largest independent owner and operator of cemeteries and crematoria, announced last year it planned to create Covid-19 memorials at most of its sites in England, Scotland and Wales.

An open invitation was issued to people of all ages and backgrounds to submit ideas for a design to be carved onto stone obelisks which will form the centre-piece of each memorial.

Hundreds of creative entries were received. Six winning designs were chosen, one for each ‘region’ within Westerleigh Group, which meant designers could – if they wished – include local landmarks or something else relevant to their area in their design.

Roger Mclaughlan, Chief Executive Officer of Westerleigh Group, said: “We would like the memorial gardens to provide permanent, tranquil places for people to visit to remember loved ones who lost their lives during the pandemic and also to remember and reflect on those who have sacrificed so much to help others during the coronavirus crisis. 

“We decided early on that we wanted local people to help shape how the gardens would look, so that each of them would become something of real significance to our local communities.

“We were overwhelmed by the creativity shown by the many people who submitted their imaginative designs and the judging process was a moving experience as it was clear that a lot of heartfelt thought had been put into each entry.

“I would like to congratulate all the winners and look forward to seeing how their designs look in the memorial gardens across our 34 crematoria.”

Retired nurse Angela Moran-Sharpness, aged 70, was the South region winner, with a design which featured a pair of forget-me-nots with foliage.

She said: “Nature was my inspiration and I thought flowers would be suitable and look good on a black granite background.”

Art graduate Camilla Fitzjohn, aged 52, will see her design on the memorial stones at several crematoria around London and the east of England.

Her image features a round white globe which represents the world, surrounded by a rainbow, with hands reaching up into the centre and releasing three birds of paradise.

She said: “It feels great and wonderful that some of my art will be looked at by people from the future, there is no prize bigger than that.”

Rachel Almond, a 39-year-old part-time teacher and part-time budding artist, was the north regional winner, also used forget-me-nots as the basis of her design, with simple edges and petals which would stand out and looked like stained-glass panels.

She said: ““I hope the design is meaningful and evokes emotion, not forgetting loved ones and acting as a symbol of remembrance, love and growth.”

Schoolgirl Faith Williams, aged 11, was the Welsh regional winner with her design which included the Welsh dragon, a rainbow and a heart.

She said: “I was inspired by all the good coming from this pandemic, like all the NHS and key workers who have been helping us all.”

Scotland winner Poppy Lunn, aged 12, also used some traditional imagery, drawing three thistles.

She said: “The middle one has a rainbow which represents the NHS and all they have done for us. The other thistles on each side are protecting the NHS, just like we have tried to do.”

The youngest winner was 10-year-old Somerset schoolboy Jake Insall, whose design will be appearing at several South West crematoria.

He said: “My design has a rainbow, clouds at the end of the rainbow, and two hands reaching through and over the rainbow, holding hands.”

Westerleigh Group hopes to install the Covid-19 memorials at all its sites during June and July, ready to open for the public to visit this summer.