Hope and reflection in Horsham, West Sussex

Hope.

It’s a small word with a large impact.

At the moment we’re all looking for a little hope, a smidge of gold at the end of an unforgiving, unrelenting, truly challenging time. And for many of us, we’re still left wanting. We’re all still reeling from the effects of Covid, whilst outside of our island, a war rages on, affecting our daily lives in smaller ways, which deplete us of any energy we may have had after the last two years of slog.

Horsham

Sounds tough, right?

It is. But we need to acknowledge what we’ve been through and hold onto the modicum of hope we have, to keep us moving through the darkest of days. That’s why, this week, on Wednesday, as the nation marked two years since we began that first lockdown, a subtle, moving tribute was unveiled in Horsham.

The team behind this moment of calm and reflection are Freeman Brothers Funeral Directors, but before you think this is solely a monument to those who’ve passed on, there’s so much more to it than that.

Abi Pattenden, Manager of Freeman Brothers, said, ‘At Freeman Brothers, the nature of our work is we’re used to helping people and it’s in our way of doing things to look forward. When we decided to commission a monument to remember this period it was with this in mind. This marks not just the difficulties of the past few of years, but also the fortitude with which they’ve been faced.

The idea to create the monument, which sits at Hills Cemetery, just off Guildford Road in Horsham, was to offer somewhere for people to come and spend time in quiet reflection.

Dr David Skipp, chairman of Horsham District Council, spoke movingly during the ceremony, touching on many aspects of the importance of the monument. He said, ‘We couldn’t foresee the dislocation of our communities, those confined to nursing homes and their own homes due to a virus we couldn’t see but that wreaked havoc on the structure and fabric of our communities. Two years is a long time, for some almost too much to bear. We need to look forward, to the challenges we have, the challenges to help those who are anxious, isolated, fearful of going outside. And we have to bring hope. Hope that we can identify these people, hope that we live up to the aspirations we had during lockdown. You look back and you think of what happened, but we must look forward with hope to what is to come.

He added, ‘I like the fact that the memorial has been placed outside of the chapel looking to the east, because that’s the sunrise and a sunrise is always a sign of a new beginning, and I think we’re in a time of new beginnings. We are changing, in our society. But every morning, when that sun rises there is a fresh challenge, and above all, there is hope for the day to come.’

Horsham memorial

There is hope too, for this subtle stone tribute

Becky Hughes, Community Coordinator for Freeman Brothers, said, ‘This monument is for everyone who has been affected by Covid. The stone is tactile, it’s made to be touched. The words, engraved by Gumbrill’s, can be used as prompts for schoolchildren to discuss their memories of the pandemic, perhaps thinking of the words they would add. The monument can be used for rubbings and further discussions. There are numerous ways this tribute can be used to aid communication across the ages.’

The monument is available for all to visit during the cemetery’s opening hours but will be offering hope for years to come.

Horsham Memorial

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