THE official opening of a Covid memorial park will take place in Ilkley this weekend.

The Paradise Park Memorial Gardens will be opened and a memorial stone plaque will be unveiled at the ceremony on Sunday, July 3 at 2pm in Riverside Gardens in Ilkley.

The area set aside for the new memorial is in a quiet area of the Bradford Council park near to the old bridge and has been planted with daffodil bulbs and a cherry tree walk, with a new path complementing the memorial stone.

A fundraising appeal was set up in March last year by local ward councillors, Anne Hawkesworth and Kyle Green, to raise money to install this permanent tribute to those who died in the area during the pandemic.

Money was also donated via Bradford Council’s Area Committee, with officers from the committee also providing support to the project.

Local business Moss and Moor Garden Centre in Ilkley donated the cherry trees and daffodil bulbs which were planted by the Friends of Ilkley Riverside Park.

Ilkley Gazette:

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Healthy People and Places, said: “The pandemic was an incredibly challenging time and the work of a range of dedicated people and the funding support from local residents, businesses and via Bradford Council’s Area Committee, has meant that this Covid memorial and reflection area is now ready to be officially opened.”

Ilkley ward councillor, Councillor Anne Hawkesworth, said: “The original idea of the stone and improvements to this park was to put down a marker or threshold in history and the effect on many that Covid and the lockdown restrictions produced.

"Indeed it is unlikely that things will return as was, including many peoples lives. Some have aged considerably more than two years in that period due to lack of interaction. Who knows what effect it will have had on children's development? Others have died and not with Covid - diagnosis has not always been easy."

She added: “We also need to thank the kind donors on Just Giving and also Moss and Moor."

Ilkley ward councillor, Councillor Kyle Green, added: “We believe this memorial garden provides a fitting location to remember and pay tribute to those who died as well as the many people who worked incredibly hard to help us get through the pandemic.”