“We also wanted a monument that reminds Boris Johnson of his responsibility”

The National Covid-19 Memorial in London on March 8, 2022.

“Come at the end of the morning, we will be there, and the weather will be magnificent! » Fran Hall made an appointment this Friday, March 18 at a very special place: at the National Covid Memorial Wall, the “national Covid memorial”. Started on March 29, 2021, it stretches for almost 500 meters along the Thames, under the windows of Saint-Thomas (the main hospital in central London), just opposite the Palace of Westminster.

Fluorescent pink vests on their backs, Fran and a friend are stretching a thread at the top of the wall. “It is to hang the photos of the deceased that their relatives will send us, for the first anniversary of the wall, on March 29”, explains Fran Hall, clear eyes and soft voice. When they’re done, they’ll return to the pots of red paint they use to brighten up the colors of the tens of thousands of hearts painted against each other all over the wall. Each represents a missing person: there are at least 150,000 (more than 185,000 people have died with “coronavirus” on their death certificates in the UK).

Grieving process

Every Friday, Fran Hall and a handful of other members of Covid-19 Bereaved families for justice travel to London to maintain the wall, add hearts (a hundred people still die of the disease every day), erase any graffiti. For these volunteers, who have all lost a loved one to the coronavirus, the process is part of the grieving process.

Fran Hall’s husband died in September 2020, aged just 66. He likely contracted the disease during a hospital appointment where he was being treated for prostate cancer. Like many other Britons, this head of a funeral home in Buckinghamshire could not be by his side for his last moments.

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“Being here is like art therapy. There’s something meditative about painting hearts, it feels like you’re helping to keep people’s memories from fading. And talking is good: we just had a chat with a lady from Chester [nord-ouest de l’Angleterre]. She lost her mother to coronavirus but so far had not had the opportunity to speak to other people who have lost loved ones,” explains Fran Hall.

Inside many hearts is written a message, like on small tombstones: the name of the deceased, “miss you dad”, “miss you mum”, etc Some relatives have taken advantage of the slots in the wall to slip in a laminated photo or a flower. The first meters of the wall are reserved for missing children – there are more than 150 in the country.

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