Covid memorial bench officially unveiled at Wolverhampton cemetery

A bereaved woman whose father died in March two years ago, and whose funeral fell on the day lockdown was announced, has achieved an ambition to have a memorial bench installed at Bushbury Cemetery in Wolverhampton.

Mayor of Wolverhampton Sandra Samuels, officially unveils the memorial bench at Bushbury Crematorium
Mayor of Wolverhampton Sandra Samuels, officially unveils the memorial bench at Bushbury Crematorium

Wolverhampton Mayor Sandra Samuels, the city's first Afro-Caribbean Mayor, officially unveiled the bench in memory of members of the Caribbean community who lost their lives during the pandemic.

The ceremony appropriately took place on Windrush Day

Angela Verley, a 63-year-old retired civil servant, who with other family members set up Wolverhampton Caribbean Community Memorial Trust, a non-profit organisation, said: "My father, Rupert Lue, from Wednesfield, died aged 87, in March 2020.

The memorial bench at Bushbury Crematorium

"His funeral was on the day lockdown was announced, on March 23 that year, and we went from having a full funeral service to being told we could not even go to church.

"His body was brought to the house and people lined the route and there were about 100 people at a service held outdoors in the cemetery.

"I realised that there were many other people who were unable to hold funerals and gatherings that are an integral part of the tradition and culture of the Caribbean population.

"Since then we have been fundraising and a memorial bench was placed in Danescourt Cemetery last year, and this was followed by a full memorial service."

Mayor of Wolverhampton Sandra Samuels, lays a wreath at the grave of Callie Silvaian Pearce "Alka", who's funeral was on the day Wolverhampton first went into lockdown

She added: "Memorial lapel pins were commissioned and were distributed among the community.

"There were 100 of the pins which were numbered and boxed, and number 81 was presented to the then Wolverhampton Mayor, Greg Brackenridge.

"This number represented the loved ones that appeared on a roll call of remembrance at the memorial service.

The memorial bench at Bushbury Crematorium

"Number 95 was sent to the Queen, representing her 95th year and a letter was subsequently received saying that she was touched to have received the pin.

"The date for the unveiling of the bench at Bushbury Cemetery was chosen with Windrush Day in mind, as many of those being remembered were part of the Windrush generation.

"We feel that we have done what we aimed to do and are now looking at the possibility of placing a memorial bench in Penn Cemetery."

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