COVID-19 memorial spot to open in Riverside Gardens

A memorial garden paying tribute to people who lost their lives to coronavirus is set to officially open in Maidenhead on Sunday.

The project has been developed in Riverside Gardens and will feature a circle of bulbs and hedges surrounding a pair of benches for reflection.

Friends of former Maidenhead Labour Party chairman, David Knowles-Leak, were inspired to create the poignant space following his death from COVID-19 in November last year.

The garden will remember all borough residents who have died from the virus with 364 bulbs due to be planted on Sunday to mark the borough’s coronavirus death toll.

Jo Smith, one of the organisers behind the garden, said: “Rob Gray, a friend of David, was the one who said we should find a way to give people a special space where they can go and reflect on all of the deaths we’ve had.

“In the spring when the bulbs flower not only will it feel like a positive place to go and reflect on people, the significance of the volume of people who have died will feel much more profound when they’re reflected by flowers there.”

The benches have been built 2 metres apart to reflect the recommended social distancing while the opening of the circle of bulbs aims to symbolise how the COVID-19 vaccine burst the ‘bubble’ of the virus.

An £800 grant from the Advertiser’s owner, the Louis Baylis Trust, and support from other organisations including Stubbings Nursery and the Maidenhead Labour Party has helped make the project a reality.

The garden will also feature two plaques explaining its purpose.

Anyone who has been impacted by coronavirus or lost a loved one to the virus is invited to come to Riverside Gardens at 11am on Sunday to plant a bulb in memory.

Jo added: “We want Sunday to be a positive opportunity for people to come along and plant a bulb and if anyone has lost someone to covid and wants to take part we’d encourage them to do that.”

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