PLANS to create a coronavirus memorial garden in Romsey are one step closer.

As reported, the UK’s largest independent owner-operator of crematoria and cemeteries, Westerleigh Group, announced last month it would create a memorial garden at each of its 34 sites across the country.

Now an artists’ impression shows what the garden will look like in Test Valley Crematorium, Ridge Lane, in a bid to remember those who have died during the pandemic.

A memorial garden will also be created in Wessex Vale Crematorium, West End.

A stone will feature at the centre of the gardens and work on the memorials is expected to begin in the Autumn, with garden landscaping taking place in early Spring 2021.

CEO of Westerleigh Group, Roger Mclaughlan, said: "These gardens will be tranquil places for people to visit and remember loved ones who died during the pandemic, and to pay tribute to those who sacrificed so much to help others who were sick, isolated or vulnerable.

“The centre-piece of each garden will be a stone monument surrounded by a floral arrangement representing a rainbow, which has become a symbol of hope during the pandemic.

“Many people have put pictures of rainbows in their windows during the lockdown, to cheer up passers- by and to offer a bright message of hope.

“Our rainbows will be created using the vibrant colours of Begonias, Petunias and Geraniums.”

The team at each crematoria is now working to identify the best location within their grounds for the gardens, which are expected to open mid-to-late Spring, 2021.

Roger added: “We are proud that all our crematoria have close links with their local communities, and we therefore thought it would be an appropriate gesture to create these permanent and lasting memorials.

“They will be special place places where people can remember and reflect on the loved ones they have lost, and give thanks to the wonderful way that the NHS, key workers and whole communities pulled together during this unprecedented crisis.

“As this project progresses, we will be reaching out to our local communities to help shape and finalise our plans.”