This page is not fully supported on Internet Explorer. We recommend using Chrome

1,000 faces that must never be forgotten

That’s what our haunting image is made from – just a fraction of the Covid victims YOU can help us honour

HOWEVER tricky the past few months have been, however much I’ve longed to see my family or spend time with friends, whatever difficulties my children may have encountered through missed schooling or isolation, one thing I shall be eternally grateful for is that no one I love appears in this picture.

Not my parents, who weathered this pandemic at the eye of the storm in northern Italy, not my in-laws in Scotland or my relatives in Cornwall and Wales.

As a family, we have been truly blessed. Far too many have not been so fortunate, and these 1,000 faces, so poignantly arranged to form an image of St Paul’s Cathedral, bring that home as never before. Step back, and it’s simply an image of Wren’s familiar masterpiece.

Step closer, and the faces emerge from the frame: each little pixel, an individual with hopes and dreams, triumphs and failures, someone who lived, loved and was loved.

Talk about perspective. If only all they had had to worry about was not being able to go to the hairdresser or having to wear a mask in the supermarket, or whether or not they can safely book a holiday in Portugal.

Such things would surely be a joy compared with the reality of that empty chair in the living room, that cold bed, the silence where once there was laughter.

That is why it is so important, as the cases subside and the success of the vaccine rollout edges us ever closer to normality, that we don’t lose sight of the enormous human cost of this pandemic.

As life begins to open up, as joy and colour slowly return to the world, it is fitting that we should pause, every now and then, to remember those who didn’t make it. Because behind every number, every statistic, every graph - and every face on this page - is a life ended by a cruel disease that not only took their last breath, but in many cases denied them those precious final goodbyes, those last embraces, that touch of a hand or the stroke of a cheek.

These images represent just some of the lives that are commemorated on the St Paul’s Remember Me website, the online book of remembrance for those lost to Covid (or because of Covid) that will lie at the heart of a new national monument, which the Mail is raising funds for.

Bereaved families are invited to submit a picture and a short message about their loved one. Some 9,000 have done so - and counting. They will be shared on interactive digital screens in the cathedral’s Middlesex Chapel, alongside a magnificent new portico. Click on a face, and their details will come up. You can try it for yourself at www.rememberme2020.uk.

Here you will find Norah Lloyd’s (1934-2020) heartbreaking entry beneath her picture: ‘Beloved wife of Christopher who passed away only a few days later. Together forever, death could not part them.’

Or Peter Boden’s (1975-2021): ‘Pete, our incredible Iron Maiden, Aeroplane and Sunderland United loving Son, Brother and Uncle. We still cannot comprehend you are not here and you left us so soon. We love you so much.’

We all have a Norah, a Christopher or a Peter in our lives.

At the height of the crisis, relatives were often not even allowed to see the bodies of loved ones who had passed away, and many were laid to rest in isolation, their families denied the dignity of mourning.

For these victims and their families, this tragedy has been all the more brutal because of the restrictions surrounding the disease.

No one should have had to die alone or with strangers - no one should be denied comfort as they say their final farewells.

Marking all this with a permanent national memorial for those of all faiths and none in St Paul’s is not just a way of honouring the dead and giving thanks for our own lives; it is also a process by which we can begin to heal as a nation.

The campaign to raise funds for the commemorative new oak portico - £2.3million in total is required for completion - has already brought together people from many different walks of life.

You, the readers of the Daily Mail, have helped raise more than £1.6million so far.

And in supporting the appeal, you find yourselves in the company of Prince Charles, the Archbishop of Canterbury as well as noted philanthropists including Lord Spencer, former Tory party treasurer, who donated £100,000 on Thursday.

Just as every one of the 128,000 plus lives lost counts, every donation, large and small, is vitally important.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a captain of industry or an ordinary citizen; the important thing is to be part of this great act of remembrance which will stand as a monument for generations to come as a reminder of what we have endured and a celebration of those gone too soon: The ordinary lives behind an extraordinary national tragedy.