Covid remembrance sites in Wigan Borough start to take shape

Spades are in the ground and work is underway for Wigan Borough’s pair of Covid-19 remembrance sites.

The Places of Reflection will be located in Mesnes Field, Wigan, and Lilford Park, Leigh, providing a special place to acknowledge the sacrifices and contributions made during the pandemic.

Wigan Council’s partner organisations for the project have been on site tackling far from ideal conditions due to adverse weather. It is hoped the two locations will be ready later in 2024.

They include accessible memorial areas encircled by landscaping features and floral displays, along with rainbow-style seating areas that include inspirational wording and reflections.

Councillor David Molyneux MBE, Leader of Wigan Council, said: “To see this project taking shape is very encouraging as we know it is an important one for our residents, including the many who contributed to the consultation to help develop the plans.

“These two sites will offer the opportunity to relax and reflect and also remember those who are no longer with us.”

Funding for the project has been provided by Wigan Council along with contributions from section 106 developer proceeds and supplemented by the borough’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

In February, representatives from Ground Inc, Hardscape, Groundwork CLM and Safer Sphere, who have helped with the design or construction of the sites visited the town hall or met on location to see how the work is developing.

Proposals for the Places of Reflection were first unveiled in 2021. Wigan Council also laid stars on Believe Square in Wigan and outside Leigh Town Hall to honour the contributions of NHS, health and social care staff and key-workers, who were also involved in the consultation.

A public consultation – overseen by Minerva Heritage - then helped identify the locations and what should be incorporated into the designs.

And a creative challenge project for young people at Wigan Youth Zone has helped inspire some of the design work that will be on show at the sites.

Coun Molyneux added: “Incorporating these two new locations into accessible greenspaces close to the town centres was an important part of the feedback.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the works progress as we enter the spring and summer months.”

Jon Hutchinson, Director of Communities at Groundwork, said: “As an environmental charity based in Wigan Borough we are proud to be a part of an important project that reflects on the contributions made my so many local people.

“During the pandemic, communities provided a huge source of strength and support, whilst green spaces became crucial in helping us to maintain our health and wellbeing. It is therefore fitting that these beautiful green spaces have been designed and developed by the community, for the community, to provide places where people can spend time in nature, meet and reflect.”

A spokesperson for Hardscape, said: “Hardscape’s most fondly recalled projects are when we combined our stone experience with our material manipulation processes to create stunning memorials and tributes, and we know these Groundwork designs will leave a lasting impression on everyone who visits.”

A spokesperson for Safer Sphere, said: “Safer Sphere is proud to be providing health and safety support as Principal Designer on both remembrance sites in Wigan Borough.

“We feel honoured to have the opportunity to contribute to these special spaces that allow for reflection and tribute, dedicated to preserving the memories of those who are no longer with us.”

For more information, please visit Wigan Borough COVID-19 memorial.

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