Hadleigh woman who lost dad to virus plans 'Covid-19 remembrance day'

Janet Mee, pictured with Karen, Jo and Bev, the family of Eric Mee (right) who died of Covid-19. 

Janet Mee, pictured with Karen, Jo and Bev, the family of Eric Mee (right) who died of Covid-19. - Credit: Jo Sheldrake

A woman from Hadleigh, whose father was one of the first 900 people to die from coronavirus in the UK, is organising a Covid-19 "remembrance day" in Suffolk to mark the lives lost to the disease.

Jo Sheldrake's father Eric Mee, from Ipswich, lost his life to Covid-19 in April aged 86 and was one of the first victims of the disease in the UK. 

Mrs Sheldrake said losing her father to the virus has been "awful" and only 12 family members were able to say goodbye to him at his funeral. 

Eric Mee

Eric Mee died of Covid-19 at the age of 86. - Credit: Jo Sheldrake

She is part of a Facebook support group which brings together the families of those who have died from Covid-19, for loved ones to share stories and remember those lost.

She has been inspired by a number of "remembrance days" being organised around the UK and wants to do something to remember the lives of those lost here in Suffolk, including her father's. 

She is hoping to hold a "remembrance day" on March 23 - the day the country was put into the first national lockdown - by creating a memorial where people can go to remember their loved ones. 

"My dad did not have the send-off he deserved and that has been the hardest part," said Mrs Sheldrake, who has worked at the Co-op supermarket in Hadleigh throughout the pandemic.

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"I want to do something for families in Suffolk who have lost someone to Covid-19, to give people somewhere to go to remember people, like a memorial."

So far, Mrs Sheldrake has had some great responses in the Hadleigh Facebook group, with suggestions of a bench and a memorial tree among the suggested ideas. 

She added: "I think it is important to mark their passing in some way."

Eric Mee's family

Eric Mee's family are devastated by his loss. Pictured are his wife Janet Mee, Karen, Jo and Bev. - Credit: Eric Mee's family

Now Mrs Sheldrake is hoping to get the support of Hadleigh Town Council, and is planning to attend the next council meeting virtually.

She hopes to be able to create the memorial in Hadleigh, inspiring others to do the same in other Suffolk towns. 

Elsewhere, a 'healing woods' is also going to be established in Suffolk, after the council unanimously agreed to establish a space for those who lost loved ones to Covid-19 to grieve or reflect on the pandemic.

The council launched a survey for people to share their thoughts and preferences on what they would like to see - and here is how you can have your say.

Meanwhile, in Otley, a retired teacher who painted pebbles for people to find during lockdown has created a permanent memorial.

She created a memorial from 182 stones painted by people from the village which are set in concrete next to the village surgery.

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