Facebook comment praising the project

A memorial in Rotherham is to open next week with the aim of rebuilding the communities which have been badly impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic.

On March 27, Hope Fields in Thrybergh Country Park will mark the anniversary of lockdown by offering a space for locals to reflect on a period which has been filled with grief, trauma, and isolation.

Councillor Sarah Allen, Cabinet Member for Cleaner, Greener Communities at Rotherham Council, said: “People experience grief in different ways. We want to offer a spark of joy and some hope, and this feature will grow, evolve and be responsive to the people of Rotherham.”

For the past seven months, the Rotherham Together programme encouraged everyone to get involved with their virtual events as they endeavoured to spread joy, gratitude and hope during such uncertain times.

However, this commission marks the end of the council-led scheme.

Facebook comment criticising the project

The project has received some criticism, with people noting they haven’t yet had the chance to come to terms with the pandemic’s impact.

An online consultation was launched in January, and Councillor Allen said: “People are really pleased that we’re doing this as it’s so rooted in the local community.

“We were clear that the Rotherham Together programme would culminate at the end of the first year of lockdown. The challenge was what we could do to mark it.”

Four artists were commissioned to produce playful murals, intended to bring hope and encourage people to playfully celebrate life and explore the natural world.

Designing natural seating and a cast-iron hare, Coralie and Jason Turpin from Sheffield put themselves forward after hearing about an open call for local artists.

Coralie, said: “We developed our ideas to follow the serene, nurturing and comforting suggestions in the brief. It will be a truly special place for families to reflect, socialise, and appreciate nature.”

The park is home to a community orchard, bird hide and wetland – All of which aims to bring people closer to nature by giving locals the chance to reconnect with wildlife.

Rotherham Council are hosting the launch event online by featuring performances from home-grown musicians and moments of reflection read by community leaders.

Councillor Allen, said: “It’s not a typical place of remembrance but is the icing on the cake of the work we needed to do around Thrybergh Country Park.

“This is a cost-effective way of delivering a fabulous living memorial to the people of Rotherham.”