Our final event took place at Bury Knowle Park on Sunday afternoon. We were delighted to welcome Lord Mayor, Lubna Arshad to unveil the new Covid Memorial, a beautiful "Happy to Chat Bench" donated by Kicking the Bucket Festival 2023 with support from Oxford City Council. We hope that people from all walks of life will feel able to come and remember their loved ones who were affected by the Covid Pandemic 2019-2021, and to realise that they are not alone. A new cherry blossom tree has also been planted, and members of the community were invited to plant Spring bulbs around it. We can't wait to see how it all looks next year when everything comes into bloom! We also crafted charming little lanterns together.
The Lord Mayor made a beautiful and moving speech to officially open the memorial, and we have her permission to reproduce it below. The late autumn afternoon was enjoyed by all of us, along with tea and cake, and the most spectacular rainbow. Our Rainbow's End indeed.
Brothers and Sisters
In the name of God the gracious and ever merciful
I'm Cllr Lubna Arshad, currently serving as the Lord Mayor of Oxford. Today, I stand before you as a pioneer in the pursuit of equal representation. I've etched my name in history as the first woman of color, the first Muslim woman from an intersectional background, and the youngest ever to hold the position of Lord Mayor for our wonderful city.
Today, our hearts weigh heavy as we unite to honor the cherished memories of those we've lost during the challenging times of the Covid-19 pandemic. In our shared sorrow, let us also embrace the resilience and unity that define our community.
In the face of unprecedented adversity, we have witnessed the unwavering strength of the human spirit. Yet, we cannot overlook the absence of public memorials, tangible symbols that honor the lives deeply affected by this crisis.
Here in Oxford, we take a significant step forward. With the unveiling of a new bench and the planting of a tree, we establish a lasting tribute to those who departed too soon. The planting of bulbs, the creation of lanterns, and the heartfelt speeches which will be shared today serve as poignant reminders of the lives we hold dear and the enduring legacy they leave behind.
May this solemn gathering inspire us to continue supporting one another with renewed empathy and solidarity. Let us keep the memories of our loved ones close to our hearts and strive to build a more resilient and compassionate community for the times ahead.
Furthermore, as a nation and as a global community, many of us collectively mourn the lives lost during this pandemic. The profound magnitude and impact of our losses will be felt for years to come.
Lord Mayor Lubna Arshad and Festival Director Liz Rothschild sitting together on the new "Happy to Chat Bench," surrounded by our lanterns.