Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral London, Very Reverend Dr David Ison, discusses the online and physical memorial at St Paul’s Cathedral to remember all those who have died due to the COVID-19 pandemic
In early April 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown response took hold in the UK, places of worship were unable to fulfil their normal role of hosting funeral and memorial services for those who had died, or to care in person for those bereaved of their loved ones. At St Paul’s Cathedral in London we saw how people were unable to visit their family member in hospital, or to have a funeral or memorial event that could provide support in sharing grief with family and friends. We decided to do what we could to help, by using the internet to bring people together across the UK to mourn and honour those who had died.
St Paul’s created Remember Me, an online book of remembrance, as a way to honour and pay tribute to each person who had lived in the UK and died as a result of the pandemic. Since its launch in May 2020, thousands of people have been remembered by friends and family who are invited to leave an online tribute on the memorial site. We continue to invite those who wish to leave a memorial to their loved one. To post a tribute is free of charge, and the online site will stay open for as long as it is needed. The Remember Me memorial is open to people of all faiths and none, and has the support of many faith leaders in the UK. His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales recorded a video message in support of the project in which he says: “This virtual book of remembrance is here to help us remember; not just to recall our loss and sorrow, but also to be thankful for everything good that those we have loved brought into our lives, and all that they have given to others.”
For centuries, St Paul’s Cathedral has been a place to come together to recall important events, from the tragedies of war to the Grenfell Tower fire, and to remember the lives and contributions of those who have served others. To mark the huge impact of the pandemic, and the many people who have died from COVID-19, the Cathedral has already begun to build a physical memorial, a Remember Me inner portico entrance with a linked memorial space. The Remember Me entrance will open into a free-to-enter part of the Cathedral so that all may visit, view the tributes of loved ones on the online memorial alongside the historic memorials, and pause to reflect and light a candle if they so wish.
In partnership with the Daily Mail newspaper, and thanks to the generosity of the public and key business leaders, we have secured the initial £2.3million needed to build the physical memorial. We hope to open the Remember Me portico in spring 2022. St Paul’s continues to fundraise to increase the availability of Remember Me, providing special staffing for the Remember Me area, increasing access to the online memorial inside the Cathedral, or creating an outdoor memorial too.
What has been so moving about the project has been the support that has been given by so many people from all walks of life. The Remember Me project has been generously supported by The Dorfman Foundation, and the philanthropist Sir Lloyd Dorfman has also been instrumental in providing leadership and guidance for the project. We have had generous donations from business leaders including Lord Sugar and Mohamed Amersi amongst others. Companies have donated their time and expertise to make the Remember Me online memorial a reality. Individuals have found creative ways to fundraise for the physical memorial – one lady’s father died from COVID-19, and since then she has been selling Yellow Heart pins in her spare time to raise money for the project. We receive kind letters and emails from children thanking us for placing their parents’ tributes side by side in the online book. It has been humbling to see how the Remember Me project has brought comfort to many grieving families, and has been supported by so many people across the country.
We started Remember Me because we believe that every person is valued and worthy of remembrance, and we want to ensure that those who have died due to the pandemic, and all who have suffered through it, are appropriately mourned, remembered and loved. Every donation to Remember Me helps us to make this vision a reality.
When we were planning the on-line memorial, we decided to open it for people who had died as a result of COVID-19 in the UK. This is in order to keep its purpose focused and to fit with its setting in St Paul’s, where as a community that is over a thousand years old we have long been remembering those who have died, and where we continue to pray and remember in a spiritual context on behalf of all. We hope that our work here may inspire other places to have their own appropriate memorials to honour and value the worth and common humanity of those whom the pandemic has taken from us.
To find out more about the online and physical Remember Me memorials, or to leave a tribute, visit
To find out more about donating to Remember Me, contact St Paul’s Director of Development Nicky Wynne on
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