The artwork will serve as a lasting memorial to the people who have died during the pandemic, and as recognition to the work of Barnsley’s key workers and volunteers.
Council leaders discussed plans for how the borough will recognise the impact of Covid-19 during a cabinet meeting on Wednesday. Proposed plans for the memorial include a virtual book of condolence, an introduction of the mayor’s special award medal, as well as a review of the freedom of the borough scheme in 2021 - which will aim to incorporate the valuable contributions people have made to helping protect Barnsley’s communities.
A town centre memorial, alongside a message by poet Ian McMillan summarising people’s feelings towards the pandemic, is also on the agenda.
Coun Sir Steve Houghton, leader of Barnsley Council, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has brought many challenges across the world, and we could never have imagined, or fully planned, for how the coronavirus pandemic has affected our borough.
“It’s crucial that we don’t forget how hard our borough is fighting against the virus and the sacrifices people are making.
“We want Barnsley to have a way of recognising this.
“We want to open a virtual book of condolence, create mayoral recognition awards and expand our freedom of the borough scheme.”
As of May 28, there had been 208 deaths registered in Barnsley with a mention of coronavirus on the death certificate - 119 of those were in hospital, and 89 were outside.
A total of 245 hospital coronavirus cases were discharged from March 21 to May 28, out of 335 cases.
“Some of our residents and communities are experiencing the devastating loss of family, friends and colleagues,” added Coun Houghton.
“With social distancing measures in place, it’s difficult for them to grieve.
“We know nothing will take the pain away, but we hope our plans will provide ways for them to commemorate their loved one’s lives.”
If the plans are approved, the council will work with local experts from Yorkshire Sculpture Park to commission an artist.
As well as this, a project team, that includes artist Graham Ibbeson and Ian McMillan, will come together with key workers and NHS staff to creature a poignant message that remembers the people who are losing their lives to virus.
“To really give people the recognition and thanks they deserve, we want to install a new memorial right in the middle of our new public square,” Coun Houghton said.
“It will be a key focal point, joining Barnsley Markets, the Glass Works and our Library @ the Lightbox.
“It’s the perfect place to create something special for our residents.”