By Lucy Ashton

A former employee of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and the health board’s Endowments Fund have teamed up to pay permanent tribute to NHS employees who worked so hard to care for people throughout the pandemic, and to those members of the public who sadly died from COVID-19.

Margaret Cochrane, 71, and fellow committee members of the Friends of the People’s Palace, Winter Gardens and Glasgow Green, secured nearly £2500 Endowments funding to install two commemorative benches in the much-loved Glasgow park.

Each of the benches, which are situated near the People’s Palace, carries a plaque with a message of tribute. The one for NHS workers reads:

“Dedicated to all NHS workers. They remained at work throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and saved countless lives, sometimes at the expense of their own. We clapped for them during the pandemic. But we should remember them forever.

“Friends of the People’s Palace, Winter Gardens and Glasgow Green.”

The bench is a tribute to all NHS workers – porter and domestic, nurse and play team member, surgeon and public health specialist – as the committee were very aware that caring for people goes far beyond frontline staff.

Margaret said: “The whole committee were adamant this was something we wanted to do, to mark the contribution they had made. Seeing the pressures NHS staff were under, the difficulties they went through to care for us through lockdown and up to now, it was the least we could do.

“It really shows how much the NHS is appreciated. My whole family is in the NHS, and it means so much to all of us.”

Margaret lives in Cambuslang, but is originally from the Gorbals – just across the River Clyde from Glasgow Green – so she has huge affection for the park, and has been part of the campaign to protect it, the People’s Palace and the Winter Gardens since 2019.

She used to work as an Estates Administration Manager with NHSGGC before she retired in 2017, so when the idea of the commemorative benches was first discussed, she knew she could approach the Endowments Fund for help.

In the end, the fund donated £2430 to the group, and last month the benches were installed, with the NHS one in a small park area next to a statue of Peter Pan and looking on to the Winter Gardens.

Margaret added: “During lockdown, everyone became very aware of the environment and the value of being outdoors and the social interaction that came with just going for a walk. Glasgow Green was so important for that for so many people.

“Lockdown may be over, but I think that feeling of being in a place like this still carries on, and that’s why I and the rest of the Friends committee are working so hard to preserve the People’s Palace, Winter Gardens and Glasgow Green.

“These benches are a wonderful addition to the area, and will be a permanent reminder of what we have all been through since the pandemic began.”

Margaret’s daughter Deborah Dyer, a Newborn Hearing Screener at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, explained how much what her mum and fellow committee members had done meant to her and her colleagues.

“We really appreciate it. There was a lot of stuff going on outside of work plus we were having to go to work every day and deal with everything in there and it was quite difficult, more so for people working on the front line.”

She added: “It’s just so nice to think that somebody’s done something like this to commemorate all the staff and it makes us feel really proud to be NHS workers.”

Front: committee member Isobel Wilson and Margaret Cochrane; back from left: volunteer Stan Crooke, Deborah Dyer and assistant chair Ruth Gillet.

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