'Last week I added 180 crosses' - sadness as cathedral Covid memorial grows

Covid memorial at Norwich Cathedral in January 2021, when the number of deaths across Norfolk from t

Covid memorial at Norwich Cathedral in January 2021, when the number of deaths across Norfolk from the pandemic passed 1,000. - Credit: Bill Smith / Norwich Cathedral

This poignant photograph shows the terrible toll of Covid in Norfolk, as the number of deaths in the county has passed 1,000.

The memorial in Norwich Cathedral has been growing by the day, with a tiny cross added for each person who has lost their life due to the pandemic.

Covid memorial at Norwich Cathedral in January 2021, when the number of deaths across Norfolk from t

Covid memorial at Norwich Cathedral in January 2021, when the number of deaths across Norfolk from the pandemic passed 1,000. - Credit: Bill Smith / Norwich Cathedral

The grim milestone of 1,000 deaths in Norfolk was reached over the weekend, on what the leader of Norfolk County Council described as a "sombre day for the county".

And the Bishop of Norwich has spoken of how each  cross represents not just a victim of the virus, but those who loved them and NHS workers who cared for them.

The moving memorial was started in June, when the historic place of worship reopened.

The latest lockdown has closed it for public service again, although private prayer is still permitted at certain times.

And the number of crosses, with a flame blessed by the Bishop of Norwich, flickering in their midst, has, tragically, continued to grow.

The Right Reverend Graham Usher, Bishop of Norwich, kneels beside the crosses commemorating the live

The Right Reverend Graham Usher, Bishop of Norwich, kneels beside the crosses commemorating the lives lost to coronavirus in Norfolk. - Credit: Bill Smith / Norwich Cathedral

The Rt Rev Graham Usher, Bishop of Norwich, said: “It was poignant and shocking to see how many more crosses have been added to the temporary memorial in Norwich Cathedral when I was there on Sunday.

"Each tiny cross representing not only an individual’s life taken by Covid-19, but the ongoing impact and grief that their passing has had on their loved ones and the medical professionals who cared for them.

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"May they all know the comfort and love of the Lord Jesus.”

Council leader Andrew Proctor said: “Every death from Covid is a tragedy and to reach a total of 1,000 deaths in Norfolk is a sombre day for the county.

"We’ve seen the awful impact Covid has had on our county and country, so we must continue to take this virus seriously and follow all the rules.”

Canon Andy Bryant with the Covid memorial at Norwich Cathedral in January 2021, when the number of d

Canon Andy Bryant with the Covid memorial at Norwich Cathedral in January 2021, when the number of deaths across Norfolk from the pandemic passed 1000. - Credit: Bill Smith / Norwich Cathedral

The Rev Canon Andy Bryant, the Cathedral’s canon for mission and pastoral care, began placing the crosses in June and said it had been "heart-rending" to have to place so many more since the start of the year.

He said: "Last week I added 180 crosses. It is the strangest feeling when I am kneeling there.

"Behind each of them there are real people and real suffering. Families have lost people who are really close to them.

"If they were elderly, then they might have died before they were expected to. Maybe family members could not be there with them when they died and maybe they have not had the sort of funeral they would otherwise have had.

"I find it in turns, moving, upsetting and indescribably sad. There's a sense of helplessness in that laying these crosses is all we can do."

Canon Bryant carefully measures out the spaces between each of the crosses before placing them and said it was important to show that level of respect.

He said: "When we began in June, we laid 461 crosses and now it is more than 1,000.

"Over the summer there were times when we did not lay any and it felt hopeful.

"But then a trickle started again and since the New Year it has just been heart-rending.

"And the question is 'how many more?' I fear there are lot more crosses I shall need to lay down.

Canon Andy Bryant with the crosses remembering every life lost to Covid-19 in the County of Norfolk.

Canon Andy Bryant with the crosses remembering every life lost to Covid-19 in Norfolk. - Credit: Bill Smith / Norwich Cathedral

Canon Bryant said families who had lost loved ones to Covid-19 had visited the cathedral to see the crosses.

He said: "There was a family who came in because it was the birthday of their loved one and the cathedral was where they wanted to come as part of marking that.

"One of the reasons we created the memorial was that we did not want these people to be forgotten as the lockdown eased.

"And I think it still serves that purpose. And I think it shows why the lockdown is needed.

"You see the number of crosses and it makes the numbers real. Standing there and seeing them all is such a powerful reminder of what this is all about."

Canon Andy Bryant with the crosses remembering every life lost to Covid-19 in the County of Norfolk.

Canon Andy Bryant in June 2020, when he began placing crosses remembering every life lost to Covid-19 in Norfolk at Norwich Cathedral. - Credit: Bill Smith / Norwich Cathedral


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