'We look forward to more positive days ahead' - How Yorkshire marked the first coronavirus anniversary

From landmarks lit up to striking tree sculptures across the region special tributes have taken place to remember those who have tragically lost their lives since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, one year after the UK was first plunged into lockdown.

A poignant sculpture installed in West Yorkshire is just one of the moving tributes made across the region to mark a year since the first coronavirus lockdown began.

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The special metal tree, designed by Matt Kitchen-Dunn has been installed in front of the Lawrence Batley Theatre, in Huddersfield.

Pictured, member of staff hold a one minute silence this morning at Bridlington Hospital. Photo credit: Submitted photo

The installation, festooned with willow and tissue lanterns, was commissioned by the Huddersfield Literary Festival (HLF), as a symbol of "hope and regeneration" for the town.

Mr Kitchen-Dunn, founder of Huddersfield-based company, AniMATronics, said creating the sculpture was made all the more poignant after he lost his 95-year-old grandma to Covid last year.

He said: "It’s been an honour to be asked to do this commission... It’s important that we never forget."

The tree is made from 10mm and 6mm gauge mild steel with the design incorporating positive words which adorn the tree's trunk and branches. This includes the phrases: 'We will rise,' 'There is always light,' and 'Brave new world.'

As the sun goes down tonight Lincolnshire Cathedral will shine yellow as part of a ‘Shine the Light’ campaign, which also invites people to display a candle or light in their window.

At the unveiling of the sculpture performance poet Michelle Scally Clarke read a lockdown poem called ‘Love and Light’ as part of the installation, yesterday evening, (22 March).

Michelle Hodgson, HLF director said: "We hope it will serve as a commemoration, a memorial and an inspiration to remind us of the challenges we have faced in the past year and to look forward to more positive days ahead."

The tree and the courtyard will be lit up every evening from today, (23 March) between 6pm and midnight, with lanterns created by Colne Valley artist Angie Boycott-Garnett and children from Holmfirth-based Children’s Art School.

While a national day of reflection, organised by the end-of-life charity Marie Curie, has taken place today.

Year two pupils at The Academy at St James, a primary school, in Bradford, took part in the minute's silence to mark one year on from the first UK's #COVID19 lockdown and reflect on all those who have lost loved ones during this world wide pandemic. Photo credit: James Hardisty/ JPIMedia Resell

A minute’s silence was held at 12pm followed by a bell toll, with people encouraged to stand on their doorsteps at 8pm with phones, candles and torches to signify a “beacon of remembrance”.

This included school children taking part across the region, such as primary pupils from St James Academy in Bradford.

While on the North Yorkshire coast members of staff from Bridlington Hospital held a one minute silence this morning.

Elsewhere in the region Lincoln Cathedral will be illuminated yellow tonight to reflect on the last year in lockdown due to COVID-19, while allowing for people to look ahead and hope for a brighter future.

Pictured, poet Michelle Scally Clarke who recited the poem, `Love and Light', in front of a new metal tree sculpture with paper lanterns hanging from branches, engraved with words of hope, unveiled in Huddersfield last night. Photo credit: Huddersfield Literature Festival

While other significant West Yorkshire buildings, including the Civic Hall and Town Hall in Leeds and Bradford City Hall, will also be lit up.

At 5.30pm the regular choral evensong at Lincoln Cathedral, will include prayers that mark the anniversary of lockdown, which will be live-streamed on the cathedral’s Facebook page.

Then finally as the sun goes down, the cathedral will shine yellow as part of a ‘Shine the Light’ campaign, which also invites people to display a candle or light in their window.

The Revd Canon Nick Brown, Precentor of Lincoln said that the unique challenges of the last year have had a lasting impact on the whole population.

He said: “Since the beginning of the first lockdown hundreds of thousands of people have died, with many more left bereaved.

"With the restrictions in place many people have not been able to grieve as they usually would, or to offer support to others in person.

Pictured, Frances Short (left) and Annabel Fox interacting with the new special metal tree, designed by Matt Kitchen-Dunn has been installed in front of the Lawrence Batley Theatre, in Huddersfield. Photo credit: Huddersfield Literature Festival

"The burden has, at times, been hard to bear. Yet, throughout this we have seen many demonstrations of kindness, compassion and care."

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