West Lothian Covid memorial garden set to open in July after design approved

Quiet contemplative space to remember those who died in the pandemic
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Designs for a memorial garden to remember the West Lothian victims of the Covid pandemic have been approved, paving the way for it to open in July.

The garden will be dedicated to the 475 people who died in the county from the illness. It is to be created  on parkland immediately adjacent to Livingston’s Civic Centre, alongside the pathway leading up to the town centre.

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It will be one of a series of  memorials to those who lost their lives during the pandemic which all local authorities are planning as part of a national project called Remembering Together.

More than 500 local people, from primary school children to NHS staff and care home residents were asked for their views on the form a  memorial should take. An exhibition of designs  was displayed in Linlithgow's Burgh Halls last year.

The design for the Covid memorial garden which will occupy a site on the south side of the Civic Centre in Livingston. Image: West Lothian Council.The design for the Covid memorial garden which will occupy a site on the south side of the Civic Centre in Livingston. Image: West Lothian Council.
The design for the Covid memorial garden which will occupy a site on the south side of the Civic Centre in Livingston. Image: West Lothian Council.

The total budget for the memorial is £120,000, the bulk of which will be spent this year on its construction and installation.

A key feature of the garden is a forged steel  structure known as The Ribbon which travels around the  curving interior of the  garden.

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A report to West Lothian council’s executive committee said: “The proposal for ‘The Ribbon’ is to be fabricated with steel which will endure for many years to come with very little to no maintenance. The surface design details are reflective of nature, specifically of plants with highly symbolic meanings to allow for people to reflect on the feedback that many shared during the pandemic, i.e. the soothing influence that nature holds during difficult times.”

Some of the plants featured on The Ribbon include Aloe, associated with grief and healing; Forget me not associated with love, memory and friendship and  Snowdrops, associated with hope and renewal.

The site will be partially screened by subtle planting of native trees, low level shrubs and hardy plants, along with a new accessible path to the seating area. The structure will be bounded by seating offering differing viewpoints of the memorial garden and quiet contemplative spaces.

The report added: “The space has been designed in such a way as to maximise different types of utilisation/usage, by different people/groups at different points in time – e.g. annual remembrance and/or celebration events, other seasonal and community events, and artistic performances, as well as areas for quiet, informal and/or personal reflection. 

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“The site will also include both a physical and digital interpretation board regarding design details featured on the artwork which appropriately reflects the variety of different approaches, meanings and perspectives which accord to individual and community reflections on their experience of the pandemic (both in the past, present and looking to  the future).”

Councillor Pauline Stafford said: “There’s collective trauma  across the board  from every generation from what the pandemic  has left behind. I think  we need to acknowledge that people are still living with long Covid, day in and day out.”

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