Leaders at St Paul’s Cathedral last night praised the ‘overwhelming support’ shown by Daily Mail readers for the drive to create a new national memorial to Britain’s Covid victims.
Readers have given more than £115,000 towards the memorial since the Mail launched the Remember Me campaign to help build it at the weekend, smashing the £100,000 milestone in less than 72 hours.
The cathedral is planning a magnificent new entrance and chapel with screens showing a virtual book of remembrance immortalising the names and pictures of those lost to the coronavirus pandemic.
It is hoped the memorial – which will be open to those of any faith or none and will feature a grand oak portico engraved with the words ‘Remember Me’ – will become an important place of pilgrimage for generations to come.
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Healthcare assistant Becky Regan, 29, died in February after contracting Covid while pregnant with her fourth child, baby Jasmine
The cathedral’s Director of Development Nicky Wynne said the community at St Paul’s had been left feeling ‘humbled and honoured’ by the generosity of Mail readers, more than 3,000 of whom have already contributed.
She said: ‘Bringing the Remember Me online Book of Memorial into St Paul’s is so important to so many. On behalf of the St Paul’s community I am humbled and honoured by the overwhelming support of the Daily Mail and you, its readers.
Tracey Buckland, 54, is now raising three-month-old Jasmine after losing her daughter Becky to Covid
Healthcare assistant Becky Regan was 28 weeks pregnant with her fourth child and had been working at North Tyneside Hospital when she was struck down with Covid.
As her health had deteriorated quickly, doctors were forced to prematurely deliver baby Jasmine by emergency C-section. But before the 29-year-old mother could even meet her baby girl – who weighed less than 3lb – she tragically passed away a week later on February 1.
Her devastated mother Tracey Buckland, 54, who is now raising three-month-old Jasmine, said: ‘My daughter was just 29, she was a mother and her children needed her. It is heartbreaking. The children say that their mum is an NHS hero… they are proud of her.’
Miss Regan, from Blyth in Northumberland, also leaves behind her older daughters Sophie, ten, Stacey, eight, and three-year-old Connie, who are being cared for by her partner.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
The grandmother and her husband gave up their jobs and home in London to move closer so she could take care of Jasmine and be near to the girls.
Backing the campaign, Mrs Buckland added: ‘I don’t want Becky to just die and be forgotten about. When Jasmine is older, the Covid pandemic will hopefully be a distant memory. A permanent memorial will help her understand the magnitude of what happened.’
‘Thanks to you, the £100,000 milestone was reached in a staggering 72 hours from 3,093 supporters!’
Prince Charles, the Prime Minister and bereaved families are among those to have already given their heartfelt backing to the Mail’s drive to help raise the £2.3million needed to create the commemorative space.
Since the campaign launched on Saturday, grieving relatives have contacted St Paul’s in droves to add tributes to more than 900 lost loved ones to the virtual book of remembrance.
The book – which was launched online last year – now contains poignant stories of 8,175 people who lost their lives, directly or indirectly, to Covid.
Each victim’s story is dealt with individually by St Paul’s Remember Me moderators who support their bereaved loved ones throughout the process.
Its Crowdfunder page has also seen donations flood in from people grieving the loss of relatives who are sadly among more than 127,500 people to have died in the pandemic.
Almost £99,000 plus £17,000 in Gift Aid has been given online in the last three days, bringing the total already raised by St Paul’s to just over £555,000.
Winifred Whitehead, who lost her husband, was among more than 2,000 people to claim one of the Mail’s limited edition Remember Me candles, pictured left, after making a donation of more than £25.
‘This is a lovely idea. I lost my husband of 61 years last year and it has been so hard. I shall cherish this candle forever,’ she wrote.
Bereaved mother Barbara Curno is also among those to give. She said: ‘Donated in memory of my son Geoff Curno who had Down syndrome and died from this terrible virus in January.
‘I hope to be able to visit the physical memorial to remember him and all who suffered.’
Diane Jayes, who lost her 42-year-old sister, added: ‘This project really makes me feel happy that there will be a physical memorial to her and all the others lost to this disease.’
Catherine Hendrick said: ‘I lost my kind, lovely dad to Covid and I think this is a special way to remember all the precious people who’ve been taken by this disease and show that each one is more than just a statistic.’
Judith Eileen Nicholls, whose husband was among those who indirectly lost their lives to the virus only seven weeks ago, said: ‘His appointments kept being cancelled and he couldn’t see a doctor. In a roundabout way Covid was responsible for his death.
‘So much pain and suffering for so many people, it is only right that there should be a memorial.’
It is free to add an entry for a loved one to the virtual book of remembrance, while the physical memorial that displays tributes on screens will also be free to enter.
The philanthropist behind the plan to remember loved ones
By Robert Hardman
Over the years, he has been banging the drum for everything from the National Theatre (where an auditorium bears the family name) and the Royal Opera House to medical research and young people (he is chairman of Prince’s Trust International).
Sir Lloyd Dorfman, founder of the Travelex currency exchange (which he sold in 2014), is seldom short of ideas. So after Britain went into lockdown last year, St Paul’s Cathedral sought his advice. The philanthropist and businessman had already supported Westminster Abbey’s efforts to raise funds for its Diamond Jubilee Galleries.
Now the coronavirus was forcing St Paul’s to close its doors to the tourists – up to a million of them each year – who traditionally keep the place afloat. At the same time, Wren’s great cathedral also wanted to play its part.
‘Almost as an afterthought, they mentioned this virtual Book of Remembrance and I thought it was brilliant – just what we needed,’ says