COVID-19: More than 10,000 people watch coronavirus memorial burn down in 'cathartic moment of rebirth' in Warwickshire

·2 min read

An ornate wooden memorial for Britain's COVID-19 victims has been intentionally set alight in front of more than 10,000 people in Warwickshire.

A group of seven torchbearers including a reverend, and some of the people who worked on the structure, were specially selected to set the structure ablaze.

The 20m-high (65ft) wooden monument, called Sanctuary, was then burned to the ground just a week after it opened.

It had been a tribute to those who died after testing positive for coronavirus.

Artist David Best, who is known for large-scaled intricately carved structures at Burning Man Festival in the Nevada Desert, designed the memorial, along with independent arts company Artichoke, which produced Sanctuary.

It was put up at the Miners' Welfare Park in Bedworth in collaboration with members of the community in North Warwickshire.

Thousands of people have visited the structure since last week and have adorned the walls with letters and mementoes dedicated to those they have lost.

Some 10,000 more came to watch it burn "in a cathartic moment of rebirth, recovery and regeneration".

Mr Best and his team were subsequently awarded special recognition by the borough council for services to the community, presented on Saturday afternoon by the mayor of Bedworth and Nuneaton, Councillor Jeff Clarke.

"Sanctuary was conceived in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic. We wanted to mark the nation's losses in an everyday place with everyday people going about their daily lives," Mr Best said.

"The thousands of visitors who have streamed into the memorial and left messages and the thousands more who came to watch it burn tonight have shown how necessary it was and how much people wanted a national memorial to embrace and acknowledge the grief and isolation that COVID imposed on us all."

Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council leader Cllr Kristofer Wilson says: "Bedworth is rightly known as the town that never forgets. To be able to showcase Bedworth on the national and international stage is truly phenomenal.

"This monument has moved literally thousands of people from Bedworth and beyond, and the very personal messages left by visitors speak direct from the heart."

Cllr Wilson added that the event has also brought "much-needed investment into our town" with over 70% of all spending being with local traders, businesses and apprentices.

"Sanctuary is an economic and social boost to our town, and I'm proud that we have showed the best of our community," he said.

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