Mercury Theatre to host Covid commemoration concert

A varied programme of activities and live performances, culminating in a concert to commemorate the lives, loves and losses of the pandemic, will take place at the Mercury Theatre on Saturday, 26 March 2022.

Commemoration – Remembering and Celebrating the Loves, Lives and Losses of the Last Two Years aims to bring people together to remember those who passed away during the pandemic and thank all those who helped support those suffering from Covid and the families who lost loved ones.

Between January 2020 and October 2021, there were 433 Covid related deaths in Colchester – making up around 14 per cent of all deaths during that period.

The special civic event aims to bring the community together through a range of music, recitals, and other performances. People can register for tickets for the evening concert via the Mercury website or by visiting the theatre’s box office on 01206 573948. Applications close at midday on Friday, 11 March, with successful applicants contacted on Monday, 14 March.

People from the emergency and frontline services as well as representatives from voluntary groups who played a key role in supporting Colchester residents through the pandemic are also being invited to attend the evening event.

The commemoration is being produced by the Mercury in partnership with Colchester Borough Council and developed together with High Steward of Colchester Sir Bob Russell, The Bishop of Colchester Roger Morris, Hunnaball Family Funeral Group, and the Colchester Garrison.

Special events outside the Mercury are also planned throughout the day, ahead of the evening concert. Activities, which begin at 12noon and run until 4pm, include the planting of 15,000 snowdrops, donated by Colchester Borough Homes, on a green space between the theatre and Roman Wall; live band performances, and a board for people to pin personal thoughts and messages.

Evening guests will be entertained by a String Quartet, from 6.30pm, ahead of the main concert, which will be compèred by BBC Essex presenters Sonia Watson and Ben Fryer. The show will feature speakers and performers from the Colchester community, the British Army Band Colchester, Funky Voices Choir, and the Mercury Young Company.

The event is also going to be live streamed via Colchester Borough Council’s YouTube channel, so as many people as possible can watch it. The show will also be live captioned for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The council has written to a range of community groups and parish councils to encourage them to stage their own events in keeping with the commemoration feel and invite people from their local area to come together, get involved and watch it live.

For example, Colchester Borough Homes is planning an event at Greenstead Community Centre for local residents to come together and watch the show.

Events could either be planned to watch the show live or on another date, as it will be available on the YouTube channel following the live performance.

The Mayor of Colchester, Cllr Robert Davidson, said: “The last two years have been a very difficult and a trying period for all of us and it is right that we have time to remember those we have lost and thank those key services and our communities who have unselfishly helped support each other through the pandemic.

“This performance promises to be a poignant and uplifting reminder of how we all came together to support each other and that, while we are still living with Covid, Colchester can look forward to a better future.

“We want as many people as possible to be able to watch the event when it is being staged and we encourage community groups and others to look at staging events where it can be streamed live.

“We hope many take this opportunity to do just that, so we can all come together in an amazing way for a special day of commemoration.”

Steve Mannix, Executive Director of the Mercury, added: “I’m delighted that the Mercury is working with Colchester Borough Council to create this important event for Colchester. It comes at a time when we’re moving forwards after the terrible losses and sacrifices that we faced during the two years of the pandemic.

“We want to recognise and celebrate the achievements our community members, who worked tirelessly during the impact of lockdowns to protect our friends and family. We are looking forward to welcoming special guests and successful ballot applicants to the special performance in our revamped theatre later this month.”

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