A memorial garden was today opened at Hadleigh Nursing Home as a permanent tribute to townspeople who died in the pandemic.
Addressing an audience of invited guests from the local community, Kingsley Healthcare’s operations director Debbie McGovern said: “The Covid pandemic has taken a terrible toll on Hadleigh, especially on its older population living in care homes.
“But the team here at Hadleigh Nursing Home has emerged from the darkest days stronger and more united. And I am sure the same goes for the town as a whole.
“That is why, in developing this garden, we wanted to honour those who lost their lives across the whole community, not just in our nursing home.” She said in the months and years ahead, it would be a tranquil place where people could reflect on the loved ones they had lost and celebrate their lives.
“We are planning to hold an annual Memorial Day here to remember those who died and look back on the most challenging time we have been through for generations,” she said. The Mayor of Hadleigh Frank Minns said the garden was an important symbol of renewal after the pandemic.
He said it was so important for older people to be able to get back to the simple everyday pleasures that made life fulfilling.
Hadleigh supermarket worker Jo Sheldrake, who has led a campaign for a memorial in the town following the death of her father to Covid, was asked to unveil a Hadleigh Memorial Garden plaque.
Home manager Jan Seal said: “The garden is for the whole community. There will be no need to book a visit to come along.” Guests were offered Champagne and canapes and there was music from a string quartet.
Data has shown Hadleigh was one of the worst hit communities in the country for Covid deaths and its care homes were badly affected. Families connected to Hadleigh Nursing Home and other local care homes were among the invitees.
The garden has a pergola with seating and tables as a central feature; trellis panels at the sides will allow roses and jasmine plants to climb and create a fragrant arch.
From the pergola, people can look out over a rockery and stone water feature.
There is log seating with the inscriptions: “As we sit we Remember” and “Let the sun shine through”. Mrs Sheldrake, whose father Eric Mee was among the early victims of the pandemic, said: “I am sure the garden will be very much appreciated. People will love the setting and the peace and quiet.”
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Author: Stephen Pullinger