Brighton memorial to covid-19 victims will feature more than 1,000 paper cranes

Residents in Brighton and Hove are being invited to help create a loving memorial to those who have lost their lives to covid-19.

Monday, 14th June 2021, 10:18 am
The memorial will involve thousands of paper cranes
The memorial will involve thousands of paper cranes

The memorial, which will be named Souls to Paradise, will take the form of a giant flock of individually folded, paper cranes.

Anyone who has lost a family member, friend or colleague, or who wishes to mark the effect the pandemic has had on us all, is invited to take part.

Every crane received by the organisers will be included in the memorial and each bird will represent a single life.

Dr Christa Beesley GP

People can also add the name of a loved one they have lost during the pandemic or a personal message if they wish.

The project was the brainchild of Dr Christa Beesley, a GP at Wellsbourne Healthcare CIC in Whitehawk.

She said: “I started to fold origami cranes for health and care colleagues who lost their lives looking after others.

“I made them all in bright primary colours so that when they fly together they look bit like an NHS rainbow.

Ian Leaver-Blaxstone

“Now, we are inviting families, schools and the whole community to get involved by folding their own crane, for a friend or family member they have lost, or to mark the suffering we have all witnessed.”

Souls to Paradise will be open to the public for a week from Tuesday, July 27, at The Spire, a creative space located in the Grade II listed former St Mark’s Chapel in East Brighton, which has given its space free of charge.

Ian Leaver-Blaxstone, a local artist who has appeared on Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2019 and is a Featured Artist in this year’s Brighton Artists’ Open Houses, is designing and installing the memorial display.  

Since March 2020, 460 people have died in Brighton and Hove due to Covid-19.

Dr Beesley added: “In ancient Japanese culture, it was believed that cranes carried souls to paradise.

“According to Japanese legend, folding one thousand cranes can make a wish come true.

“More recently the cranes have become a symbol of hope in challenging times.

“When the flying cranes are suspended, people will be able to look up and take time to reflect and remember those who have died.”

Entrance to the Spire will be free and will be collection boxes for local charities: Spire Arts and Cruse Bereavement.

By the time the display is ready, organisers hope to have more than one thousand cranes suspended from the high ceiling of the former church.

Faith Dodkins, Co-Artistic Director at The Spire Arts, said: “The Spire is pleased to be supporting Wellsbourne Healthcare CIC by hosting the ‘Souls to Paradise’ memorial in July.

“Our organisation, like so many others in the city, has been deeply affected by the coronavirus pandemic but we are thrilled to be taking small steps towards fully re-opening to the public this Spring.

“We cannot think of a more appropriate way in which to sensitively remember those we have lost and look forward to giving people the time and space to reflect on their personal experiences of the past year.”

Hannah Yeomanson, Community Fundraising and Engagement Manager, Cruse Bereavement Care, said: “Cruse is delighted to be involved in this special memorial, ‘Souls to Paradise’, to commemorate those who have died during the pandemic.

“We’re so grateful to everyone involved in the project, which is a lovely way to support bereaved people locally.

“Anyone can get involved by folding a crane to display and we are so looking forward to seeing the final artwork in such a beautiful venue.”

For instructions on how to fold a crane and where to send it to be part of the memorial, visit