People across the UK tonight paid tribute to the life lost to the coronavirus over the past year.
Parts of the UK skyline have been illuminated to commemorate the anniversary of the first national lockdown.
People across the UK have been encouraged by the Marie Curie charity to stand on their doorsteps at 8pm with phones, candles and torches to mark a “beacon of remembrance”.
In London, Trafalgar Square, the London Eye and Wembley Stadium were among the landmarks that glowed yellow at nightfall for the occasion.
Liverpool City Hall, Blackpool Tower and St. Mary’s Lighthouse in North East England shone together with Lincoln Cathedral for the bereaved.
More than 2,100 candles have been lit in Belfast Cathedral to mark every life Covid has lost in Northern Ireland and a vigil has been held in Bristol to remember those who have lost their lives.
The events also included parliaments and assemblies in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as Cardiff University and City Hall, the Titanic Building and Belfast City Hall and St Andrew’s House in Edinburgh.
According to the latest available data from the Office of National Statistics, there were 629,623 deaths from all causes in England and Wales between March 21, 2020 and the week ended March 12, 2021.
The numbers also show that there have been 149,117 deaths across the UK with Covid-19 mentioned on the death certificate.
Matthew Reed, Marie Curie General Manager, said, “The emotional strain of grief that so many of us have faced at a time when so few of us have been able to do it in the usual way with friends, family and getting in touch with fellowship is immeasurable.
“The work of so many churches to see the day has sent a powerful message to those most affected by the death of a loved one – they are not alone.
“From neighbors throwing a light on their doorsteps at 8:00 p.m. to political leaders who respect the silence of the minute, our nation has been instrumental in recognizing the challenges the bereaved faced during this difficult year.”
He said Marie Curie, who led today’s commemorative events, committed to making National Day of Reflection an annual event “to recognize the effects of grief for whatever reason”.
Much of the nation paused at noon to remember those who had died during the crisis.
The silence was observed by members of the public, health and care workers and politicians across the UK, with cathedrals and both Houses of Parliament falling silent. A bell followed.
Members of the royal family also paid tribute to the day.
The Queen reflected on the “grief and loss of so many” in a message accompanying flowers being sent to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in the City of London, where the Duke of Edinburgh was undergoing heart surgery.
The message read: “As we look forward to a better future together, we take a break today to reflect on the grief and loss that so many people and families continue to experience, and appreciate the immeasurable service of those who have supported us throughout the last year. “
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also attended a private moment of reflection at Westminster Abbey, observing the minute’s silence in the shrine of the Abbey of St. Edward the Confessor.
William lit a memorial candle on the shrine’s altar and Kate placed fresh daffodils next to the candle.
The Prince of Wales, who is a patroness of Marie Curie, supported the national day of reflection, saying, “Whatever our beliefs or philosophy, let us take a moment to remember those who have lost went to give thanks for their lives and to acknowledge the unspeakable pain of parting.
“Let us, in your memory, resolve to work for a future inspired by our highest values that the people of this country have shown so clearly during these challenging times.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who privately followed the silence of the minute, offered his “condolences” to those left behind during the pandemic.
He said: “Today, the anniversary of the first lockdown, is an opportunity to reflect on the past year – one of the most difficult in our country’s history.
“We should also remember the great spirit our nation showed over the past year. We’ve all played our roles, whether it be working on the front lines as a nurse or caregiver, working on vaccine development and supply, getting that stab in the arms, homeschooling your kids, or just being too Stay home to prevent the virus from spreading. “
New statistics on the effects of Covid show how devastating it was.
The Health Foundation has calculated that those who died with Covid-19 lost an average of up to 10 years of life, with a total of up to 1.5 million potential years of life lost.
Dr. Susan Hopkins, Strategic Response Director of Public Health England at Covid-19, said, “This virus has left no one untouched and it has been the most difficult time, both personally and professionally, that many of us have ever faced.
“Today I want to thank all of the health professionals and key workers who worked long and difficult hours to keep the country safe. The commitment you have shown is an inspiration to all of us. “
Rachel Reeves, Labour’s shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said the party’s thoughts are with grieving families. She said a public inquiry will be key in drawing lessons from the pandemic.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said: “This day of reflection is an opportunity to pause and remember everything that has happened in the past year, to mourn those who have died, but also to thank those who have passed away. who took care of us and our communities.
“It is a moment to pray together to our Heavenly Father to comfort us in our sorrows and to lead us into hope in the risen Christ and the eternal life that He promises.
“As we reflect on the pandemic, may he strengthen our determination to rebuild a friendlier, more equitable and compassionate society, may he be with those who are struggling, and may he help us honor those we have last year have lost.”