Proposed Barnsley Coronavirus memorial to be given a prominent position in new town centre development

Barnsley Council proposes to install a piece of artwork in their new town centre development, as a lasting memorial to the people who have sadly lost their lives during the pandemic, and recognition to the fantastic work of the borough’s key workers and volunteers.

Barnsley council’s cabinet will discuss plans for how the borough will recognise the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) at their next meeting on 10 June 2020.

Proposed plans include:

  • a town centre memorial incorporating a poignant phrase by Barnsley’s ‘Poet in Lockdown’, Ian McMillan, summarising people’s feelings towards the pandemic
  • a virtual book of condolence
  • introduction of the Mayor’s special award medals
  • a review of the Freedom of the Borough scheme in 2021 to incorporate an opportunity to recognise the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19), and the valuable contributions people have made to protecting and helping Barnsley’s communities.

Cllr Sir Steve Houghton CBE, Leader of Barnsley Council, said: “The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has brought many challenges across the world, and we could never have imagined, or fully planned, for how the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has affected our borough.

“It’s crucial that we don’t forget how hard our borough is fighting against the virus and the sacrifices people are making. We want Barnsley to have a way of recognising this. We want to open a virtual book of condolence, create Mayoral recognition awards and expand our Freedom of the Borough scheme.

“Some of our residents and communities are experiencing the devastating loss of family, friends, colleagues. With social distancing measures in place, it’s difficult for them to grieve. We know that nothing will take the pain away, but we hope that our plans will provide ways for them to commemorate their loved one’s lives.

“To really give people the recognition and thanks they deserve, we want to install a new memorial right in the middle of our new public square. It will be a key focal point, joining Barnsley Markets, The Glass Works and our Library @ The Lightbox. It’s the perfect place to create something special for our residents."

If approved, Barnsley Council will work with local experts from the Yorkshire Sculpture Park to commission an artist. A steering group including Artist Graham Ibbeson and Poet Ian McMillan will come together with key workers, NHS staff, volunteers and families to support the creation of something that shows recognition, remembers the people who are losing their lives to the virus and provides a lasting memorial for future generations to visit.

Read the cabinet report on the council’s website.

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