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Covid-19 Memorial opens at Vale Royal Crematorium

A Covid-19 Memorial at Vale Royal Crematorium in Northwich is now available for the public to visit.

The memorial was officially unveiled at a launch event on Wednesday 28th July at the Cheshire site, which is run by Westerleigh Group, the UK’s largest independent owner and operator of crematoria and cemeteries, with 35 facilities across England, Scotland and Wales. 

Just over a year ago, Westerleigh Group announced plans to create permanent dedicated memorials within its landscaped Gardens of Remembrance at most of its sites for people to visit and commemorate loved ones who died during the pandemic.  

The memorials also provide focal points for people to remember, reflect on and pay tribute to NHS key workers and whole communities who pulled together during the crisis. 

At the heart of each tranquil memorial is an all-polished black granite obelisk surrounded by wild flower planting incorporating all the colours of the rainbow, which became a common symbol of hope during the pandemic. 

Westerleigh Group invited people of all ages and backgrounds to create a design for the stones, and six winners were chosen, one for each of Westerleigh Group’s regions.

The obelisk at the memorial in Vale Royal crematorium features a design which was created by 39-year-old part time teacher and artist Rachel Almond from Winsford.

Rachel’s design is based on forget-me-nots flowers. She took inspiration from her aunt's funeral where she was given a pack of forget-me-not seeds to plant in her memory. She saw the memorial for the first time when she unveiled it at Vale Royal Crematorium.

She said: “It is fantastic to see the design on a memorial that will stand here for many years. I learned about the design competition just a few weeks after the sudden death of my aunt so it means a lot to me.

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

The design has been etched onto the memorial stones at Westerleigh Group’s Babworth, Gedling, Great Glen, Howe Bridge and West Lancashire crematoria as well as Vale Royal Crematorium.

Roger Mclaughlan, Chief Executive Officer of Westerleigh Group, said: “I’m proud that our Covid-19 memorial is now open for people to visit. 

“So many communities have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Sadly, many families have lost loved ones, and our thoughts and sincere condolences go to them, first and foremost. 

“We felt we needed to do something not only to remember those who passed away but also to honour others who did so many positive and selfless acts to support people and bring their communities closer together. 

“These lasting memorials will provide a tranquil place for people to remember and reflect; where they can seek some comfort knowing that the legacy of those lost is not only being recognised but will be remembered for many generations to come.” 

Members of the public are welcome to come and visit the Covid-19 memorial at Vale Royal Crematorium. Please visit www.valeroyalcrematorium.co.uk for opening hours.

Pictured  - Cllr David Marren, Deputy Mayor of Cheshire East Council and the President of the Federation of the Burial and Cremation Authorities (L) and Rachel Almond, Memorial Design winner (R).

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