SCOTLAND'S Covid memorial has been officially opened by deputy first minister John Swinney in Glasgow.

Tears were shed as emotional memories of difficult times during the pandemic were read out to about 70 people gathered in the city’s Pollok Country Park for the ceremony on Friday.

The memorial is a collection of “I remember” oak tree supports throughout the park at the Riverside Grove location.

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Poet and artist Alec Finlay, who was commissioned last year to make them, said the designs were inspired by the support ordinary people showed one another during the pandemic.

The key motif of “I remember” is carved on each one in several languages.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was due to speak at the ceremony but, due to catching Covid herself, Swinney stepped into her place.

He delivered a speech and laid a wreath in memory of those lost during the pandemic.

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Speaking about the memorial opening, he said: “This is a particularly significant moment for families who have lost loved ones during the pandemic.

“The artist exhibit is a beautiful illustration of support and solidarity of the values that got us all through the pandemic and which will help us through the recovery.

“And it’s set in a place of peace and tranquillity in Pollok Park, and it’s a beautiful place for us to remember them.”

Singer Margaret Bennett performed a traditional Gaelic lament from Glen Lyon, Grioghal Cridhe to allow for a moment of reflection before Finlay gave a speech about the memorial.

The artist read a passage from I Remember, a book of emotional and heartbreaking memories people have of the pandemic, which Finlay collected by reaching out to members of the community.

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A walk through the park then followed, led by bereaved relatives Connie McCready, Peter McMahon and Carolyn Murdoch, to allow time for personal reflection.

Murdoch, who is a member of a Covid support group that had some input into the memorial, attended to remember her late father John Connelly.

He died in April 2020 aged 104 after he contracted Covid in a care home.

“It was very difficult not having the support you should have, which makes this [memorial] so relevant,” she said.

“These supports depict how a lot of people felt.”

Murdoch said she and her brother only had 15 minutes each with their father the day before he died.

Connelly died alone in Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

Getting emotional, Murdoch said: “He was a special wee man.

“It’s lovely to be part of this memorial, and to remember your loved one walking through it.”

The campaign to create a national memorial to those who lost their lives during the pandemic was initiated and led by The Herald.