An award-winning photographer from Cumbria has launched a million-pound appeal for a national memorial to all NHS staff and carers who have died from COVID-19.
Ashley Cooper, a photographer and environmental campaigner, believes the country should have a permanent memorial to those who die “in the line of duty”.
He has started a crowd-funding campaign for a place where all affected families can go to grieve and to feel ultimate pride in the sacrifice that their loved ones made.
Ashley, who lives in Ambleside, is the son of a nurse and has two sisters working for the NHS. “So I care that we value the sacrifices our NHS staff and carers are making,” he says.
“As a child of the early 1960’s I grew up listening to tales of heroism and bravery of those who fought in the Battle of Britain. People who were prepared to put their own lives on the line to protect our people and country. At the end of the war, memorials were erected and every year we go to them to remember them and to pay our respects.
“We are still in the middle of this awful crisis and sadly many more will die yet. I do not want them to be forgotten. I want the country to erect a fitting, national memorial to all those who died from the virus in the line of duty. Please join me in raising the funds so that when this is all over we can erect a memorial to make our heroes proud.”
Ashley is no stranger to tackling large-scale campaigns. He spent many years touring every continent taking photographs to document the impacts of climate change, and his subsequent book, Images from a Warming Planet, has become a bible for environmental campaigners.
The book won awards, and Ashley was granted the status of Green World ambassador.
So far the book has reached a wide audience, helping to communicate the urgency of the climate change message, copies now owned by Pope Francis, Prince Charles, Al Gore, Bill McKibben, Sir Tim Smit, Emma Thompson, Chris Packham, Vivienne Westwood, Chris Bonington, Levi Roots and many more.
He says: “Today we face a different kind of crisis. Our doctors, nurses, carers and all staff in the NHS bravely go into work each day, knowing they are potentially endangering their own lives. Often they are forced to treat Covid patients with inadequate PPE. They work in horrendous conditions for long hours with the utmost care for their patients. Tragically many of them have paid the ultimate sacrifice and died from this dreadful virus.
“They could have stayed at home, but they chose instead to put themselves willingly on the front line to care for and protect our loved ones.”