Leicester City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby backs Watermead Park ‘pandemic memorial walk’ crowdfunding campaign

By Alexander Hodgkins-Jones

A crowdfunding campaign backed by Sir Peter Soulsby is aiming to raise enough money to build a pandemic ‘memorial walk’ in Watermead Park to provide a space for reflection and remembrance of the year we did everything possible to protect family and friends.

The Watermead Memorial Walk is a joint venture from Leicestershire County Council and Leicester City Council and was announced yesterday (DEC2).

The county and city councils are now asking for help from the public to raise the £61,133 needed to fund the project, having each put up £17,500 and £11,500 respectively to cover maintenance costs.

CrowdFund Leicester, an initiative launched by City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby, is hosting the campaign.

The proposed walk would include 58 new trees creating a linear path from the north to the south of the Charnwood Park in Birstall, with benches placed at regular intervals allowing people to sit and reflect on the coronavirus pandemic of 2020.

The proposed walk site would provide a space for visitors to remember the difficulties of 2020

In a statement Mayor Soulsby said: “2020 will be remembered as a year of dreadful loss and suffering, but it should also be remembered as the year when people pulled together in extraordinary ways – protecting their communities and helping each other through the difficult times.

“The Watermead Memorial Walk is a project that has my full support. Let’s create it together – and let people in Leicester and Leicestershire enjoy it together.”

The Leicester Mayor publicly backed the project on Twitter

As of November 20, 5,001 people had died from COVID-19 in the East Midlands, with Leicester and the surrounding areas having suffered through ongoing lockdowns since mid-March.

It is hoped the walk will provide a place to commemorate those lost, but also to remember the strength of front-line workers, health care providers and countless others during such a difficult year.

Nick Rushton, leader of Leicestershire County Council, said: “This project aims to create an environmentally-conscious space that will continue to bring people together. In doing so, we will not only look back on 2020 as a difficult year, but as a year we pulled through by working together and supporting our communities.”

The first tree is hoped to be planted in the coming days as part of National Tree Week (NOV28-DEC6).

A phased roadmap for the project would see its completion in March next year with the potential to expand the idea to include features such as sculptures and plaques.

People are encouraged to pledge their donations now, with no money being taken until February 2021 if the project hits its target.

Nottingham-based graphics business The Art Department has already generously pledged £3,528.

“If we are to complete the first phase of our proposals by the end of January 2021, we need to call on our communities and businesses to help make this plan a reality. All pledges no matter how large or small will be gratefully received,” said Cllr Rushton.

More information about the project and how to donate can be found on its fundraising page, with the minimum pledge being £2.

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