Property developer boosts campaign for national Covid memorial

Built to last! Property developer boosts campaign for national Covid memorial with £100k donation

  • Businessman and philanthropist Sir John Ritblat handed £100,000 to fund
  • Taking donations over £1.75million meaning it is well on track to hit £2.3million
  • In less than three weeks, more than 9,000 kind-hearted Mail readers donated  

The Remember Me campaign for a Covid memorial at St Paul’s Cathedral was handed a £100,000 boost yesterday thanks to a generous donation from property developer Sir John Ritblat.

The businessman and philanthropist said he and his family felt ‘privileged’ to join those helping create the national memorial ‘as a place for all faiths to visit and remember those who have died’.

The donation took the campaign, which is backed by the Daily Mail, over the £1.75million mark – meaning it is well on track to hit the £2.3million target for the tribute located at the London landmark.

One of Britain’s most successful businessmen, Sir John, 85, bought property company British Land for £1million in 1970 and turned it into a FTSE100 business

Sir John said: ‘The pandemic has touched many people throughout the country with so many untimely deaths and disablement affecting our family, friends and acquaintances. But it has also struck a chord of unity, compassion and altruistic public spirit.

‘We should not forget the dedication of everyone in our hospitals and health services together with the many people providing care and solace to see us through such a distressing time.

‘I and my family feel privileged to help fund this memorial as a place for all faiths to visit and remember those who have died and who have suffered.

‘This will be a place to be mindful of the preciousness of life, health and humanity – as well as to honour the wellbeing of those who put themselves on the front line to help. The memorial will be a way of ensuring the legacy not just for us but our descendants.

‘We hope this mark of sadness for our losses will be an incentive to inspire resilience and kindness in the coming generations.’

One of Britain’s most successful businessmen, Sir John, 85, bought property company British Land for £1million in 1970 and turned it into a FTSE100 business. He was chairman for 36 years before he stepped down from the role in 2006.

As a philanthropist with a particular interest in education, young people and the arts, he sponsored the Sir John Ritblat Gallery at the British Library – which houses treasures ranging from Magna Carta to a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio that are displayed for free to the public.

It is free to add a name to the virtual book of remembrance. And the national memorial itself will be free to enter too. Visitors will be able to light candles or sit and contemplate (stock image)

In less than three weeks, more than 9,000 kind-hearted Mail readers have donated to the Covid memorial fund – with almost £127,000 arriving in the post and more than £185,505 on the cathedral’s online Crowdfunder page.

In total, a staggering £312,311 has been pledged in reader donations.

Sir John’s endorsement of the campaign follows major gifts from Apprentice star Lord Sugar, businessmen Matt Moulding, Sir Tom Hunter, and Mohamed Amersi, and former investment banker and education charity boss Jacky Lambert.

Last night the appeal, combined with funds already collected by the cathedral, had raised £1,759,891 – more than three-quarters of the way to the £2.3million target.

It is hoped the memorial can be completed for the pandemic’s second anniversary in March 2022. It will include a virtual book of remembrance – including names, photographs and personal tributes from loved ones of those who died – and will be displayed on special video screens within a chapel at the cathedral. It will also feature a grand oak portico which will have the words ‘Remember Me’ engraved in several languages.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was a ‘solemn duty… to come together and cherish the memories of those who have been lost’. Meanwhile, faith leaders have given their heartfelt support for the commemorative space – which will be open to those of all religions and none.

Around 1,730 of the Mail’s 5,000 limited edition Remember Me candles are still available. They can be claimed by those donating at least £25.

To donate, visit https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/remember-me-physical-memorial  

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