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COVID MEMORIAL: Schoolboy’s vision has become a reality

COVID MEMORIAL: Schoolboy’s vision has become a reality

Image: LDRS

A Solihull schoolboy’s dream of creating a community garden to honour the victims of Covid-19 has become a reality.

It’s less than a year since 11-year-old Harvey Eustace came forward with a colourful sketch, intended to transform an area of Olton Jubilee Park.

Today that same design is there to see in real-life, with the flower beds dug and filled with hundreds of plants.

Hand-painted stones – many decorated in memory of loved ones – will be added to the area and benches and a litter bin are also set to be installed.

Mum Steph Freeman has said it is hoped that an official opening of what locals have dubbed “Harvey’s Haven” could take place in August, subject to Covid restrictions.

She said that Harvey, an Ulverley School pupil,  had been delighted by the show of support for the project.

“He’s very proud that it has come together,” she told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS).

“He still does the whole thing of saying ‘there’s my garden, it’s still growing mum.’

“He’s really happy that people have responded and supported the idea.

“From the get-go all he wanted was to do something to help people in the community.”

Harvey has autism and his mum has previously told how her son had sometimes struggled during the past 14 months.

“He has found it challenging, but this has given him something to work towards during lockdown. It has helped him in a way.”

The idea had originally been presented to the parks team last year and was championed by former Lyndon councillor Ade Adeyemo.

Following the discussions last summer, the council agreed to donate a blossom tree, with the family having launched a fund raising drive to drum up the £750 needed for other features.

Volunteers had broken ground on the site in October, with different teams of residents helping with the various stages in the months that have followed.

Covid restrictions have sometimes limited numbers but there has been no shortage of enthusiasm within the local area.

Sadly Solihull’s death toll has more than doubled since the work started in the autumn. Official figures show that 642 lives have been lost borough-wide due to the coronavirus.

“We have got more and more people saying ‘I have lost a loved one’,” said Ms Freeman.

“It’s horrible we have got more people coming to us but that’s why we started the project in the first place.

“We wanted to make sure that residents who we have lost in the community are remembered.”

The cross-shaped plot incorporates some of the most striking symbols of the past year.

A flower bed has been planted in the colours of the rainbow, which appeared in windows around the country during the first lockdown.

While a bench will be daubed with a yellow heart – which was an icon adopted by many grieving families last spring.

Local authorities nationwide have been working on permanent memorials to those who have been lost to Covid-19.

In Solihull the single biggest project is Hope Coppice, a woodland area being planted by the council near Shirley.

The transformation of the public open space was already planned prior to the pandemic but it was later agreed it would be specifically dedicated to the victims of the crisis.

Words: David Irwin, Local Democracy Reporter

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