UK urged to mark one year of London’s Covid Memorial Wall by making it permanent

Bereaved families gather on the banks of the Thames to commemorate victims of the pandemic

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Hundreds of families gathered at the National Covid Memorial Wall in London on Tuesday to mark its first anniversary and pay tribute to those who lost their lives during the pandemic.

The landmark, which runs along the river Thames opposite the Houses of Parliament, features thousands of painted red hearts commemorating those who died.

A large crowd walked to No. 10 Downing Street to hand in a petition to make the mural a permanent addition to the capital.

The bereaved relatives tearfully called on Boris Johnson to “hold his head in shame” and resign over alleged lockdown-breaking parties in Whitehall as they led a silent procession to Downing Street for Covid victims.

The UK government says 165,000 people in Britain have died with Covid-19 since the start of the outbreak, one of the world's highest death tolls.

Michelle Rumball, 50, whose mother died in 2020, has helped to maintain the wall and posed outside the prime minister’s official residence with other organisers after heading the march.

She wept as she voiced her disappointment at alleged gatherings and parties held in Downing Street and across Whitehall while bereaved families were observing restrictions, including limits on funeral numbers and social contact with loved ones.

Reacting to news that 20 penalties will be handed out by investigators over the parties, she said: “I actually don’t think the fine is enough really.

“I think they should have actually lost their jobs … [People] died on their own and yet all these were having parties.”

Describing her mother’s funeral, Ms Rumball said: “All my sisters, we all went home to our separate houses and raised a glass to my mum over Zoom, and they’re having parties.

“I just think it’s not fair.”

Amanda Herring Murrell, 51, who also led the procession after losing her 54-year-old brother in the first lockdown, said: “The prime minister lied to parliament.

“He lied to every citizen in this nation and he should hold his head in shame, because he should resign.”

More than 100,000 people so far have signed the petition to make the wall permanent.

“We won’t let it fade away — that’s why we’re here today,” Ms Rumball said.

“It could just be forgotten, and we just can’t let that happen to all our loved ones.”

Updated: March 30, 2022, 8:42 AM