A Covid memorial wall has “got to stay”, bereaved families have said, as volunteers completed the installation.
Roughly 150,000 red and pink hearts have been painted along the Thames Embankment opposite the Houses of Parliament.
The National Covid Memorial Wall, stretching almost 500 metres between Westminster and Lambeth bridges, will be added to as the Covid-19 death toll keeps climbing.
Alison Weetman lost her father to Covid on April 1 2020, and has contributed to the memorial wall with her daughter, Abbie, to commemorate him.
Ms Weetman told the PA news agency: “It’s got to stay, it’s got to be a memorial for everyone that’s passed away from Covid and they should never be forgotten.
“I think it’s fantastic what’s happening with the vaccine programme but the Government needs to remember that there’s a lot of people that died, thousands have died and they can never ever be forgotten, and I won’t let my dad be forgotten either.”
Her sentiments were echoed by Fran Hall, from Buckinghamshire, who lost her husband of three weeks to Covid last year.
She said of the wall: “Sadly, we’re not finished.
“It’s not finished because there are more people dying, and there will be more people dying, so we will continue to add hearts as we need to.”
She described her involvement with the memorial as “incredibly healing and cathartic”.
Ms Hall added: “It’s like there’s been a community grown around the wall as we’ve worked here and I’ve found it really an immense responsibility to draw each heart.
“I’ve done as many as I could of the 150,700 and something hearts and we’ve had so many conversations.”
Ms Weetman tearfully remembered her dad, Clement David Abbott, on Thursday, as Abbie held a photograph of him in a restaurant.
She said of the retired police officer and grandfather of three: “I know he’s my dad and Abbie’s grandad but he was just a lovely man.”
She added: “He is so greatly missed by our family it’s unbelievable. We have family get togethers and it’s just not the same.”
Abbie said: “He was one in a million.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan visited the memorial on Thursday afternoon and described his walk along the wall as “heartbreaking”.
Speaking to reporters Mr Khan said: “It’s quite poignant, and I think only when you come here do you fully appreciate just the numbers of people who have lost their lives but also the impact it’s had on grieving families.”
On whether the installation should be made permanent, Mr Khan said: “I think it’s important there is a permanent memorial recognising the loss of life.
“I think it’s right and appropriate that this memorial is opposite Parliament, there are big questions that need to be answered by the Government but also it’s a reminder to Parliamentarians about their responsibility to make sure lessons are learned.”