Listen here: I remember: Scotland's Covid Memorial moving audio
I remember when no one had died; I remember when the worst-case scenario was 20,000 deaths.
They are just a couple of the moving thoughts which have been captured and recorded as part of the creation of Scotland’s Covid memorial.
Reaching out to people, we collected hundreds of I remember passages through a project led by The Herald’s Covid memorial artist Alec Finlay.
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They are a communal memory of the pandemic but for some can also be a precise moment in time of how they felt at the loss of a loved one.
And on the second anniversary of the first national lockdown - a time for many bereaved when the anniversaries of the loss of loved ones begins to be marked – we have released the powerful and moving audio of I remember. And today a minute silence will be held at the Riverside Grove site at 12noon to mark the national day of reflection.
Herald Covid memorial artist Alec Finlay pictured in Pollok Country Park. Photograph by Colin Mearns.
Beautifully read by actor Robert Carlyle and brought together with Mr Finlay and sound engineer Chris Watson, the emotion of the sentences is felt and there is the calming sound of birdsong in the background.
The audio be linked to the memorial in Glasgow’s Pollok Country Park where a series of tree supports will be installed in the park to create the national Covid memorial, a campaign initiated and led by The Herald. Our aim is to create a memorial as a fitting tribute to those who lost their lives during the pandemic and for anyone affected.
While the audio can be accessed through The Herald from today, visitors to the memorial will eventually be able to access it through QR codes and a link to a dedicated website. The release of the audio comes just days after four boxes of I remember messages were buried at the site that will be known as the Riverside Grove.
Actor Robert Carlyle has recorded the audio for I remember: Scotland's Covid memorial
The moving ceremony took place and marked in significant moment for The Herald’s campaign to create the Covid memorial. Almost £140,000 has been raised towards the project through a public fund.
The Herald was honoured when Robert Carlyle agreed to become involved in the project and admitted the recording of the audio reduced him to tears.
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It was recorded in Vancouver, where Carlyle is now based. Carlyle introduces the audio content and admits they were very difficult for him to say and added that they “may indeed be very difficult for you to hear, but we think they are so important to be shared.”
Describing the recording of the I remember audio, Carlyle said: “It was very emotional. I knew it was going to be like that as I had read through the piece a few times in preparation for reading it and I never got through it without crying.
“This is real life, people’s real thoughts and it was such a poignant thing to do. I became aware of it through The Herald and Tweeted about it and it got a tremendous response.
“This is exactly what we should be doing. It is so sad that this has happened and that so many people’s lives have been destroyed by this. The memorial is a wonderful way of marking that and saying this happened and affected people.”
Artist Alec Finlay with Peter McMahon of Covid 19 Families Scotland. Picture by Gordon Terris.
Our artist Mr Finlay said this was an important moment to share the audiobook, as we reach the two year anniversary.
“Hearing Robert Carlyle read I remember brought home to me what a profound record of our communal experience it is. Of course, it is, inevitably, an upsetting work, as there has been so many lives lost and lives altered, but I do believe it will prove cathartic, precisely because it is a communal account, in which such different responses come together. One of the great problems of our culture is the idea that suffering must be polarising and divisive.
“I remember was formed, politically, by ideas of empathy and solidarity, whereby one person can understand another, despite their differences, and respond in a supportive way. That has been undermined in recent years. In the audiobook people’s experiences can all be heard, and valued: each individual voice speaks to us. Robert and I both felt that. It is a book of memory that is truly representative, which means also touching, quirky, and authentic. There isn’t one author, there are many many authors. I will never forget the night we recorded it, and I’m hopeful that it will touch many people, and help us, together, create a truly progressive and kind response to the pandemic.”
Burial of 'I remember' messages at what will become Scotland's Covid memorial. Pictured are Carolyn Murdoch and Peter McMahon of Covid 19 Families Scotland. Photo by Gordon Terris.
Bereaved families, a representative from Marie Curie Cancer which had to adapt to how they helped their day patient access services during the pandemic, and members of Long Covid Scotland action group attended the I remember ceremony last week.
While the memories contained in the boxes have been buried, they will all still be accessible on a dedicated website and will also be archived by the National Library of Scotland. I remember was written in four languages, English, Gaelic, Urdu and Polish and other world languages will feature as part of the memorial.
Soon after the campaign was launched in May 2020, Glasgow City Council stepped forward with the offer to host the memorial in the grounds of Pollok Country Park and we have been great support by them and Lord Provost Philip Braat who has been involved in the project from its infancy.
To donate go to The Herald memorial garden go to gofundme.com/ herald-garden-of-remembrance. You can also send donations via post to The Herald Garden of Remembrance Campaign, Herald & Times, 125 Fullarton Drive, Glasgow, G32 8FG.