Hailsham Town Council has agreed to place two commemorative benches at the Western Road Recreation Ground.

One will remember all lives lost through the coronavirus lockdowns and the other to thank the efforts of NHS staff, key workers and volunteers who have supported the local community during the pandemic.

The bespoke steel benches will be placed around the new perimeter path at the recreation ground, both with representative images of all groups of people affected by the pandemic and with the inscriptions: “For many months, to sit outside was but a wish” and “Recognising all those who helped to overcome COVID-19: NHS, Key Workers and all Volunteers”.

The motion to purchase and install the two commemorative benches was put forward at last week’s meeting of Full Council by Cllr Mary Laxton, to demonstrate that the Town Council has taken positive action in recognition of how the pandemic impacts the local community.

Cllr Laxton said: “Both commemorative benches will be funded from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and will be a permanent memorial to all those affected by the pandemic, whether it be the grief of losing a loved one, the loneliness which had come about through having to shield and even being restricted in terms of going about our everyday lifestyle and daily business.

“We also wanted to separately express our heartfelt gratitude to each and everyone who has worked, and continues to work, so hard to keep us safe and bring us through this terrible pandemic.

“It is hoped as people sit on the benches at the Western Road Recreation Ground, they will reflect on the coronavirus pandemic where pioneering science was needed to help gradually bring us back to being able to enjoy the simple things like sitting on a bench in the sunshine. All this while remembering those who unfortunately did not make it.

“So many of us, both families and individuals, have been affected by the Coronavirus in one way or another and the latest restrictions had only added to the grief that they are experiencing. It is the right thing to do to ensure that there is somewhere in Hailsham – in a place accessible to all – to remember those who are on the frontline and those who have lost their lives.”

“COVID-19 has changed our lives significantly over the past year, impacting on virtually every aspect of society,” said Town Mayor Cllr Paul Holbrook. “Our NHS staff, key workers and of course our many local volunteers, have put so much hard work, time and effort into risen maintaining essential services through health, communities and public services.”

“The Town Council will be marking their efforts – and commemorating those that have lost their lives during the pandemic or those who have lost a loved one, through the installation of these two benches at the recreation ground.”