Leeds to get memorial woodland for Covid victims as city approaches 'light at end of tunnel', announces council leader James Lewis

One year ago today, all our lives changed.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 6:00 am
Leeds will get a memorial garden to pay tribute to Covid victims, the council has announced (stock image of woods in Leeds)

The start of the first national lockdown saw streets in Leeds and other towns and cities across the country falling eerily silent. Many schools and shops closed, museums and galleries shut their doors, bus and train stations were at times virtually deserted.

This was an unprecedented situation and, quite understandably, one that left

local families feeling anxious and concerned.

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But the challenges posed by COVID-19 also brought out the best in people, with Leeds responding in a way that demonstrated resilience, kindness and can-do attitude in equal measure.

NHS and care workers were on the frontline of the fight against the pandemic, looking after our loved ones and offering reassurance – or sometimes a metaphorical shoulder to cry on – when the stress and strain became too much.

We will also be forever grateful to the countless key workers and volunteers who kept the wheels of the city turning throughout that first lockdown and the various restrictions that have followed. From teachers, emergency service staff and delivery drivers to the community groups providing doorstep support for those asked to shield, heroes have been found in all walks of life.

Their continuing efforts, combined with the success of the vaccine rollout programme, mean that as the chill of winter gives way to the brighter days of spring, there is a sense of genuine optimism in the air.

We are now at a point where we can – cautiously, carefully but with increasing anticipation – begin looking forward to reunions with friends, the reopening of

our shops, pubs, restaurants and bars, a return to something approaching normality.

At the same time, though, we will never forget the lives claimed by this terrible virus, nor the bereaved families for whom it has been the worst of years.

That is why the council is currently working with key partners on plans for a memorial woodland that will act as a tribute to the victims of COVID-19 while also saluting our NHS and key workers.

More details will be announced shortly about the proposals along with ways in which local people can get involved

with the project.

We hope to create a place of peace and natural beauty where visitors can be alone with their thoughts, reflecting on the losses suffered and the sacrifices

made during the pandemic.

But we also want the woodland to be a source of pride, a reminder of the spirit of togetherness and determination shown by people in Leeds when the city

needed it most.

The crisis might not be over yet, but there is finally light at the end of the tunnel and every single person reading this will have played some part in

getting us here. Thank you and stay safe.