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The National Covid Memorial Wall
Photograph: John Gomez

Wall of Hearts retouched: London’s Covid memorial looks spectacular again

Volunteers have been giving the National Covid Memorial Wall a bit of a spruce-up

Written by
Ellie Muir

On the Albert Embankment, a once mundane wall stretching over half a kilometre long looks out on to the Thames and the Palace of Westminster.

In April 2021, the wall was cleaned of its graffiti and given a new identity when the bereaved families of Covid-19 victims covered it in 150,000 pink, red and blue hearts, each one representing a life lost to the pandemic. 

Nine months on, the committed family members and volunteers who worked tirelessly to decorate the wall are touching up the now-faded motifs. They’ve traced over their personal messages using black Sharpies, to refresh the memory of those whom they lost. Flowers, letters and photographs have also been left along the length of the eight-foot-high Portland stone wall, which runs beside St Thomas’ Hospital. 

The memorial was coordinated by the campaign group Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, which was founded by Matt Fowler who lost his father, Ian, to coronavirus in April 2020. With the help of fellow campaign group Led by Donkeys, the painting first began at the end of March 2021.

Jo Goodman, who co-founded Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice along with Fowler after losing her father, told the Guardian: ‘It felt like people were sick of hearing about the pandemic and wanted to move on. There was a sense that our loved ones were becoming a statistic. How do you show that they’re people?’

They say grief is love with nowhere to go,’  Goodman continued. The wall is where it goes.’

You can #walkthewall virtually here, and listen to the stories of the bereaved.

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