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Community comes together for Covid commemoration event

PUBLISHED: 29 March 2022


The Mercury theatre became the focus for a varied programme of activities and live performances, when Colchester’s community came together last Saturday (26 March) to commemorate the lives, loves and losses of the pandemic.

The unique civic event, produced by the Mercury in partnership with Colchester Borough Council, provided an occasion for people to reflect on the events of the past two years, remember those who passed away during the pandemic and thank everyone who helped support those with Covid and the families who lost loved ones.

The event began in the morning, with volunteers planting 5,000 snowdrops on the green space between the Mercury and the Roman Wall. It is hoped, by next Spring, the display, which was sponsored by Colchester Borough Homes, will become a wonderful sea of white and a lovely space for people to reflect and remember.

Visitors were later invited to add rainbow-coloured fabric strips to Community 360’s Textile Collective’s wooden ladder, with each one representing a loss that people have experienced during the pandemic.

Covid Knit (2022), an evolving textile sculpture created over the last two years, was also on display. The work is a highly personal piece for artist Krista McSkimming, who uses scrap wool and found objects to represent the isolation, anxiety and lost time during the pandemic.

A packed theatre watched as the day’s events culminated in a special evening concert compèred by BBC Essex presenters Sonia Watson and Ben Fryer, featuring music, recitals and other performances, which was also streamed live online and has so far attracted more than 1,700 views.

Speakers and performers included: the British Army Band Colchester; Funky Voices; the Mercury Young Company; singers Rosie Heath and Craig Mather; actor and Essex-based performer Anne Odeke; Military Wives Choir; Essex Young Musician of the Year Madeline Robinson; West End star Hugh Maynard, and Anthony Roberts, the Director of Colchester Arts Centre.

Speaking shortly after the event, the Mayor of Colchester, Cllr Robert Davidson, said: “One of the few positives of this pandemic is the way people in our community stepped forward, both individually and collectively, to help support our most vulnerable residents, and in the process set a norm where altruism, mutual aid and generosity helped serve as an example to others, and encouraged them to help as well.

“Saturday’s Covid Commemoration event captured that spirit perfectly, providing a moving and memorable moment for the whole community to give thanks, honour those who served, celebrate the people we loved and lost, and once again look forward to a brighter future together.
“I am immensely grateful to everyone who planned and took part in such a wonderful occasion.”

Steve Mannix, Executive Director of the Mercury, added: “Poignant moments from Saturday’s concert reminded us about the dedication that our community in Colchester provided throughout the pandemic. We’re lucky to live in a place where our values mean as a community that we feel supported – from residents who live here, to hospices who give care, to co-workers and friends who helped each other through the toughest of times. The concert gave us all a chance to praise those people and remember dearly the ones we have lost. We areproud to have been a part of that.”

Philip Sullivan, CEO of Colchester Borough Homes, said: “We were delighted to be able to sponsor 5,000 snowdrops for the Covid Commemoration event and, with the generous help of the volunteers who planted them, help create what is certain to become a visually stunning reminder each springtime of the strength of the local community’s response to the pandemic.

Pictured above: Ava and Jessica Manning help plant 5,000 snowdrops donated by Colchester Borough Homes.

Page last reviewed: 29 March 2022

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