A FUNDRAISING appeal has been launched to raise money to install a permanent tribute to those who have tragically died during the coronavirus pandemic in Ilkley and Ben Rhydding.

Ilkley District Councillors Kyle Green (Con, Ilkley) and Anne Hawkesworth (Ind, Ilkley) want to mark the date of the first Government lockdown on March 23 by raising money for a memorial site in the town.

Both councillors have personally donated £100 each and are looking to raise over £1,000 through a crowdfunding website to help fund the tribute to the more than 50 residents who have tragically died from Covid.

So far, ideas for a permanent tribute have included planting magnolia trees, a permanent plaque to remember those who have died, and other appropriate plantings to help create a suitable memorial.

Speaking about this idea, Councillor Hawkesworth said: “We hope that we can produce a lasting memorial to those of us who have died and grieved but also a reminder for the future of recovery and hope. Whether magnolia trees along a walk already existing in the park or clouds of daffodils on the road through Ilkley or some secluded area to contemplate revival with snowdrops, it will be a marker to the future and a reminder of the past.”

Councillor Green added: “This last year has been extremely difficult for all of us. Many in our community have worked on the front line to help save lives and perform key worker roles and we are hugely grateful for all their continued efforts.

“Tragically, over 50 residents of Ilkley and Ben Rhydding have died from this virus and it seems fitting to make sure that we as a community pay tribute to those who have lost their lives.

“This will be a public place for people to reflect upon those we have lost.”

It is now one year since a woman in her 50s from the Ilkley area became the first known case of coronavirus in the Bradford district.

The woman developed symptoms of the virus after returning home from a family holiday in Italy, and drove herself to hospital to be tested before self-isolating at home with her family.

At this time, there had been just a handful of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the UK, and signalled the arrival of the deadly virus in Bradford.

There was much uncertainty at that time about how severe the virus was and how bad it’s spread would be, but now 12 months on everybody in Bradford and the rest of Britain knows just how serious coronavirus is and how much of a devastating impact it has had on the country, and the whole world.

A year on from the first case, there have now been more than 1,000 deaths from Covid-19 in the district and more than 44,000 confirmed cases.

Around 4,800 people have also been hospitalised during the pandemic with the virus.

Ilkley and Ben Rhydding has been one of the hardest hit areas in the district, with 50 deaths from Covid-19, which is due in part to the number of residential homes in the area.

The town’s population has a much older average age than the rest of the district, and the elderly have been worst affected by the virus.

The positive news of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout in the district is providing a light at the end of the tunnel and a route out of the pandemic.

Almost 90 per cent of all over 65s in the district have had at least once jab so far, with 30 per cent of all Bradford adults vaccinated.

With its older demographic, Ilkley and Ben Rhydding has seen the more people vaccinated than any other area in the district - 4,777 so far.

Anyone who wishes to donate to the fundraising appeal to pay for a permanent tribute in Ilkley can do so online by visiting justgiving.com/crowdfunding/IlkleyandBenRhyddingmemorial.