National Covid Memorial Wall, London
In March 2021, the grass-roots campaign group Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, aided by Led by Donkeys, started painting pink and red hearts on the wall of the Albert Embankment opposite the Houses of Parliament by Westminster Bridge. This was the start of the National Covid Memorial Wall and the aim was to have 150,000 hearts (the UK Covid-19 death toll at the time) painted by, and on behalf, of the bereaved relatives.
The scale of the wall is impressive. It runs for nearly the entire length of the embankment between Westminster and Lambeth Bridges. Walking the its length gives you a sense of the scale of the tragedy that has engulfed the UK since the arrival of Covid-19 in 2020. Never has a collection of pink and red hearts seemed so relentless. It is as an effective a rebuke to the government in the building across the river as anything else produced this year.
But, while it is undoubtedly a political statement, it is also a collection of heartfelt and sincere messages of grief and loss. Close to, the simple memorials become intensely moving.
There are discussion under way to examine ways of recording the wall or making it permanent in some way. I hope this can be achieved. There may be other official memorials to the people killed by Covid, but I suspect few will match this one for political and personal impact.
The National Covid Memorial Wall
Nearest tube is Westminster or Waterloo. Access via Westminster Bridge or Lambeth Bridge.
Report by: Anthea Hawdon