‘Pandemic poppies’ plan to commemorate Covid dead

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Lucy Fisher
·2 min read
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Former Tory health minister Dan Poulter is among MPs and peers backing the cross-party campaign for an annual memorial day and local monuments across the land - Matt Cardy/Getty Images Europe
Former Tory health minister Dan Poulter is among MPs and peers backing the cross-party campaign for an annual memorial day and local monuments across the land - Matt Cardy/Getty Images Europe

Covid “poppies” should be created to help families commemorate the pandemic, a former military chief behind a series of war memorials has said.

General Sir Lord Dannatt, an ex-head of the army, is spearheading a drive to make March 23 an annual “Covid Memorial Day”, with a minute’s silence held in schools, workplaces and public venues.

The campaign, backed by 50 MPs and peers from a range of parties, is also calling on the Government to fund a Covid monument in every town, as well as a national memorial in Whitehall.

Lord Dannatt told The Telegraph that a fresh emblem, similar in purpose to the poppy, should be created to help families mark the pandemic each year.

He threw his backing behind a design for a glass pillar that refracts light in the spectrum of the rainbow, in a nod to the colourful symbol associated with the NHS.

The pillars could be sold to raise money for charity and displayed in the window of homes and community buildings every March 23, he suggested.

The peer said ministers should allocate £50 million to fund local monuments, saying: “There are war memorials in every city, town and village. Most communities have been affected in one way or another by the pandemic, so perhaps we should do the same.

“They would be about remembering all those who have lost their lives, but also celebrating those people in frontline roles - emergency workers, NHS staff and all those in the community who have served during the pandemic.”

The Queen and the late Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh walking among ceramic red poppies planted in memory of the British and Commonwealth dead from WWI in the moat at the Tower of London on October 16, 2014 - Andy Rain/PA-EFE/Shutterstock
The Queen and the late Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh walking among ceramic red poppies planted in memory of the British and Commonwealth dead from WWI in the moat at the Tower of London on October 16, 2014 - Andy Rain/PA-EFE/Shutterstock

Lord Dannatt helped lead the planning to mark the centenary of the First World War, including the installation of almost 900,000 ceramic poppies at the Tower of London, and is also a trustee of the Normandy Memorial Trust that is set to stage a soft opening later this year.

Former Tory health minister Dan Poulter is among MPs and peers backing the cross-party campaign for an annual memorial day and local monuments across the land.

It is being coordinated by March for Change, a citizen campaigning organisation, and is also supported by the Local Government Association, the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Nursing.

So far the Prime Minister has promised that the “whole period” of the pandemic will be commemorated “at the right moment” through a “permanent and fitting memorial”.

The location, design, timetable and cost have not yet been set out, however.