Lockdown Anniversary: Brits come together to light 'beacon of remembrance'

23 March 2021, 14:38 | Updated: 23 March 2021, 23:18

Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

Brits up and down the country have lit a candle or shone a torch in a "beacon of remembrance" to commemorate the lives lost to coronavirus on the anniversary of the UK's first lockdown.

Thousands stood on their doorsteps with phones, candles and torches at 8pm on Tuesday to mark the occasion.

Several major buildings and landmarks were also lit up to mark the anniversary, including the London Eye, Trafalgar Square and Wembley Stadium.

In the devolved nations, Cardiff Castle and Belfast City Hall were lit up and churches and cathedrals tolled their bells.

READ MORE: Landmarks across UK lit up in 'beacon of remembrance' on Lockdown Anniversary

READ MORE: Nation falls silent to remember victims of Covid-19

A candle was placed outside 10 Downing Street to signify a "beacon of remembrance" in London
A candle was placed outside 10 Downing Street to signify a "beacon of remembrance" in London. Picture: PA

It forms part of the national day of reflection, organised by Marie Curie and supported by more than 250 organisations and leading figures, including 82 leaders from religious groups and cross-party politicians, charities, businesses, emergency services, public sector bodies and community groups.

So far, 149,117 deaths have occurred in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

Estimates suggest those who died with Covid-19 have lost up to 10 years of life on average, with a total of up to 1.5 million years of life potentially lost.

In the capital, Trafalgar Square, the London Eye and Wembley Stadium were among landmarks that lit up yellow at nightfall to mark the occasion.

Elsewhere, Liverpool Town Hall, Blackpool Tower and St Mary's Lighthouse shone a light for those bereaved, alongside the Lincoln Cathedral.

READ MORE: Husband expected to die from Covid infection describes being reunited with wife after recovering

Joining them were parliaments and assemblies in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as Cardiff's University and City Hall, Belfast's Titanic Building and City Hall, and Edinburgh's St Andrew's House.

It follows a minute's silence earlier on Tuesday as the Queen and Prime Minister led tributes, acknowledging the grief and loss of the last year.

The minute's silence was observed by members of the public, health and care staff and politicians across the UK, with cathedrals and both Houses of Parliament falling silent.

The moment was followed by bells tolling across the capital and elsewhere around the UK.

The Queen reflected on the "grief and loss felt by so many" in a message accompanying flowers sent to St Bartholomew's Hospital in the City of London, where Prince Philip recently had heart surgery.

READ MORE: Royals lead tributes as UK marks one year since first coronavirus lockdown

READ MORE: A timeline of the coronavirus pandemic a year on

Ahead of a press conference at 5pm, Boris Johnson, who observed the minute's silence privately, offered his "sincere condolences" to people bereaved during the pandemic.

He said: "Today, the anniversary of the first lockdown, is an opportunity to reflect on the past year - one of the most difficult in our country's history.

"We should also remember the great spirit shown by our nation over this past year. We have all played our part, whether it's working on the front line as a nurse or carer, working on vaccine development and supply, helping to get that jab into arms, home schooling your children, or just by staying at home to prevent the spread of the virus."

It has been 12 months since everyone has been urged to do their bit using a simple yet unforgettable message: "Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives."

Shops closed, children were barred from playgrounds, schools shut and the very heart of community ordered to isolate from one another.

But the losses of Covid have been more than just high street names and personal freedoms.

Major life events; weddings, a grandparents first cuddle with a grandchild, funerals, Christmas and other religious holidays with families, have all been barred from us by this cruel disease.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson reflects on ‘dark and difficult year’ as nation remembers Covid victims

The losses are not only those who succumbed to complications caused by the virus but many who were struggling with mental health and those waiting for urgent, life-saving operations that were called off as the NHS faced continuous waves of virus patients.

According to the latest available data from the Office for National Statistics, there have been 629,623 deaths from all causes registered in England and Wales between March 21 2020 and the week ending March 12 2021.