A COVID-19 memorial is being created at Sirhowy Valley Crematorium to provide people living in Caerphilly County Borough with a tranquil place in which to reflect on the pandemic.

The crematorium, which officially opened in February this year, is part of Westerleigh Group, the UK’s largest independent owner-operator of crematoria and cemeteries, with 35 facilities in England, Wales and Scotland.

Last year Westerleigh Group announced plans to create Covid-19 memorials at most of its sites.

Now the group has confirmed it is also creating a memorial at its newest crematorium.

The centre-piece of the memorial will be a black granite obelisk featuring an inscription, together with a design by 11-year-old Faith Williams, from Newport.

Her design will not only be etched onto the stone at Sirhowy Valley but will also feature on the monuments at Westerleigh Group’s three other Welsh crematoria.

Westerleigh Group wanted to give local people a chance to directly influence how the Covid-19 memorials would look, so it launched a competition open to people of all ages and walks of life to design a suitable image.

Hundreds of entries were received and six winners were chosen, one for each of Westerleigh Group’s own geographic regions.

This enabled designers to incorporate, if they wanted, local landmarks or other imagery directly relevant to their own region.

Faith, whose ambition is to become a writer and illustrator, said: “My design includes the Welsh dragon, from the Welsh flag. Above the dragon is a rainbow, which represents the NHS and key workers and is a message of hope. At the top is a heart, which represents the families, friends and communities supporting each other.

“I was inspired by all the good coming from this pandemic, like all the NHS and key workers who have been helping us all.

“I felt it was important to remember those who lost their lives to Coronavirus and those who have helped others.”

Roger Mclaughlan, Chief Executive Officer of Westerleigh Group, said: “We want the memorial gardens to provide permanent, tranquil places for people to visit to remember loved ones who lost their lives during the pandemic and also to remember and reflect on those who have sacrificed so much to help others during the coronavirus crisis. 

“We decided early on that we wanted local people to help shape how the gardens would look, so that each of them would become something of real significance to our local communities.

“We were overwhelmed by the creativity shown by the many people who submitted their imaginative designs and the judging process was a moving experience as it was clear that a lot of heartfelt thought had been put into each entry.

“I would like to congratulate Faith for her winning design and am looking forward to seeing how it looks in the memorial garden at Sirhowy Valley Crematorium.”

The black stone obelisk will be surrounded by a floral display.

Westerleigh Group hopes to install the Covid-19 memorials during June, ready to open for the public to visit in July.

For further information about Sirhowy Valley Crematorium, visit www.sirhowyvalleycrem.co.uk or email SirhowyValley@westerleighgroup.co.uk