Memorial garden to remember Doncaster's Covid victims officially opened at hospital

A memorial garden to remember Doncaster’s victims of coronavirus has been officially opened at the town’s hospital.

Monday, 28th June 2021, 2:09 pm

The Rainbow Garden was unveiled by Diane Smith whose NHS worker husband Kevin died from Covid-19 last year.

He is one of three hospital staff whose memories will live on in the newly created landscape garden, with friends and colleagues of Dr Medhat Atalla and Lorraine Butterfield, who also died from coronavirus, present at the unveiling ceremony.

The new garden, near to the main entrance of Doncaster Royal Infirmary, has been designed as a quiet and colourful place for both hospital staff and visitors to quietly remember the town’s 900 plus victims of coronavirus.

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Diane Smith and Richard Parker unveil the new Rainbow Garden at DRI.
Diane Smith and Richard Parker unveil the new Rainbow Garden at DRI.

More than £50,000 was raised to create the garden and a similar one at Bassetlaw Hospital in Worksop with the centrepiece being a ‘tree of hands’ sculpture, created by local artist Amanda Hughes-Lubeck and using hand casts of colleagues from the hospital – specifically colleagues of Kevin and Medhat.

Featuring seating areas, flower beds and a central lawn, the garden is fenced off and contains a number of trellis walkways, lit with fairy lights.

Mrs Smith, whose husband Kevin was a familar face at the hospital’s fracture clinic for more than three decades, also unveiled a new wheelchair storage area – dubbed Kev’s Wheels and decorated with rainbows.

She said: “Kev would have been completely overhwhelmed by all of this.

NHS workers Kevin Smith, Dr Medhat Atalla and Lorraine Butterfield all lost their lives to Covid.

"The fundraiser started just after Kev died. He was always smiling, he always had a big smile on his face.

"It would have made him smile. The wheels are nice – because we are moving forward aren’t we?

"I think the wheels mean a lot more than just wheelchairs.”

The garden opening also included a poetry reading as well as a speech from the hospital’s chief executive Richard Parker who said: “Today is an emotional day, but also a day when we can look forward.

A new wheelchair storage area has also been created in memory of Kevin Smith.

"Our staff have gone through an unprecedented 16 months in the history of the NHS and this beautiful new garden is a place not only for them but for all of Doncaster to come to relax and remember loved ones.”

The new garden is a place for people to remember the town's coronavirus victims.