Bereaved families call for permanent memorial at event in Stormont

Families who were bereaved during the Covid-19 pandemic gathered at Stormont earlier this week at an event to remember their loved ones.

Ciaran Ward, who lost both his parents to Covid, and Brenda Doherty, whose mum Ruth Burke also passed away from the virus, with SDLP MLA Pat Catney and UUP MLA Robbie Butler.
Ciaran Ward, who lost both his parents to Covid, and Brenda Doherty, whose mum Ruth Burke also passed away from the virus, with SDLP MLA Pat Catney and UUP MLA Robbie Butler.

During the event stones painted in memory of those who passed away during the global pandemic were displayed.

The stones were created by the group ‘Memory Stones of Love’, set up by Strabane man Ciaran Ward, who lost both of his parents to Covid.

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Ciaran’s parents, Bredge and Owen, sadly passed away in November last year.

Memory stones in memory of Owen and Bredge Ward, who sadly passed away from Covid, at an event in Stormont earlier this week.

The couple, who were 69 and had been married for 49 years, contracted the virus and initially were at home with mild symptoms.

However, their condition became worse and first Owen and then Bredge were admitted to the Covid ward in Altnagelvin Hospital. Their conditions did not improve and they were admitted to ICU, where they sadly died within 12 hours of each other.

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Ciaran came together with Brenda Doherty, the daughter of Newtownabbey woman Ruth Burke - the first woman to pass away as a result of Covid 19 in the North - to discuss ways they could support other bereaved families.

They set up the group ‘Memory Stones of Love’ and began taking painted stones to represent the lives lost to beauty spots across the North and in Donegal.

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The group visited Stormont to campaign for a permanent memorial in the North.

Ciaran told the ‘Journal’ the group received ‘overwhelming’ support from elected representatives at the event on Monday.

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“We didn’t expect the response to be so positive. MLAs who visited to view the stones heard the stories of familes and they seemed to be very moved and very supportive of the idea of a permanent memorial.”

The group do not ony remember those who died as a result of Covid, but anyone who passed away during the global pandemic.

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So far, 200 stones have been created to honour those who have died.

“So many families were unable to grieve properly or to have a proper funeral because of Covid restrictions. The event on Monday gave many family members an opportunity to come together and remember their loved ones,” Ciaran said.

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“There was a lot of emotion and tears, as it is still very, very raw, but people were able to take some comfort from the stones.”

For more information or to request a stone in memory of a loved one visit: https://www.facebook.com/Memory-Stones-of-Love-103916488539052