Shropshire standing stone memorial built for Covid-19 victims and their families
A standing stone memorial has been unveiled in Shropshire for coronavirus victims and their families.
One of the hardest things about the pandemic for many people has been saying goodbye to loved ones without funerals and family gatherings.
Families across the country have had to mourn the loss of close relatives and friends who lost their lives to Covid-19, and this has been especially difficult due to the limitations in social distancing, meaning funerals and other ceremonies have not been able to go ahead.
One company in Shropshire wanted to provide people with a way of safely commemorating loved ones in this unprecedented time.
Toby Angel, managing director of Sacred Stones Limited, and Tim Ashton, whose family owns Soulton Hall, worked together to create a Covid-19 memorial which people of all faiths and non-faiths could visit, as a comforting and hopeful symbol.
Soulton Hall, near Wem, is home to the Soulton Long Barrow, the first memorial barrow to have been built in the county for around 5,000 years. The Covid-19 memorial standing stone is located close to the barrow and was unveiled on Wednesday.
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"It has been extraordinary," Toby said. "We don't know what is going to happen in the future. People are not able to hold funerals and say goodbye to loved ones, so this is needed.
"The unveiling was really quite something. It went way beyond what we thought it would be which is brilliant."
The gathering and standing stone emerged from recent conversations with local ministers of several faiths, as well as humanist representatives.
Tim said: “Standing stones have been used for thousands of years and signify a sense of permanence and neutrality. This act of remembrance must be for everyone. It is important to take a moment to mark what has happened. Standing together, acknowledging that many will have suffered enormously, to underscore the community and humanity we share.
"During the gathering, guests were invited to remove supporting posts from the standing stone and say a few words. The symbolism of removing supporting posts is to acknowledge that the stone can ‘stand on its own, that it has identity, purpose and permanence."
Toby added: “When Tim mentioned the conversations he’d had we immediately agreed something must be done. Lockdown has affected us all, we must not fail to acknowledge the impact it has had.
"We had a number of different faith and no-faith representatives attend, from a Buddhist to a rabbi to humanists. The message we want to send out is that we would like people to echo what we have done. The time to do it is now because people need a sense of permanence and of hope in their mind.
"It is important, we feel, to take a moment to mark what has happened; to stand together and acknowledge that some families have suffered enormously; and to underscore the community and humanity we share."