Published: Thu 16th March, 2023
A bell which will mark the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Charnwood communities has been cast in Loughborough today (March 16).
The Hope Bell will remember those lost in the pandemic but also pay tribute to the NHS and key workers while being a beacon of hope for the future and a reminder of how communities came together to support each other in challenging times.
Charnwood Borough Council has commissioned the bell which was cast at John Taylor & Co in Loughborough, the last major bell foundry in the UK.
It is part of a wider project to better link the town centre with Queen’s Park which is being funded by Loughborough Town Deal.
A number of guests gathered to watch the casting including the Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire, Mike Kapur, and representatives from the local community, NHS, police and key workers, including from the Council’s waste partner Serco. Partners who worked with the Council during the pandemic, such as Leicestershire County Council and Loughborough University, also attended, as did members of Loughborough Town Deal Board.
Over one tonne of molten bell metal was poured into a mould for the Hope Bell. The mould will be broken open in several days’ time before the bell is completed in the foundry’s workshop.
Cllr Jonathan Morgan, Leader of Charnwood Borough Council and co-chair of the Loughborough Town Deal Board, said: “This is a historic occasion for Loughborough. The impact of the pandemic will be felt for many years, and we not only wanted to mark that in some way, but to do so with something that is unique to Loughborough, bells.
“The Hope Bell will remember those we have lost, but also how communities came together to look after each other and how organisations like the NHS saved countless lives.”
The Mayor of Charnwood, Cllr Jennifer Tillotson, said: “I was really pleased to welcome guests from the local community, NHS and other organisations as well as partners who the Council worked with closely during the pandemic. It was a truly memorable occasion, and we now look forward to seeing the Hope Bell being created and installed.”
Cllr Jenny Bokor, the Council’s lead member for Loughborough, said: “The Hope Bell will be a wonderful addition to Queen’s Park. It will provide somewhere people can go and reflect but also remember how positively people came together to help each other. That is a very strong message we want the bell to send to future generations as the Hope Bell will stand in Queen’s Park for many, many decades.”
Dr Nik Kotecha OBE, co-chair of Loughborough Town Deal, said: “I am really pleased Loughborough Town Deal could support the Lanes and Links project which includes the Hope Bell. Now the main bell is cast, we look forward to seeing it being installed in the heart of Loughborough and the rest of the project coming forward for the benefit of the town centre.”
The Hope Bell will be a clock chime installation with five bells. The main Hope Bell will sound the hour and the quarter bells on the quarter hours.
It will have a stone base and a band of gold-coloured metal will be wrapped around the top, encircling the bells, and giving a visual feeling of sound emanating from them.
The structure will stand around seven and a half metres high.
The quarter bells have already been cast.
It is anticipated the Hope Bell will be installed in Queen’s Park in 2024.
Loughborough Town Deal is supporting 11 projects after securing £16.9 million of Government funding. In total, the projects are worth more than £40 million of investment for the town.
For more information about the Lanes and Links project, visit www.charnwood.gov.uk/lanesandlinks.
For more information about Loughborough Town Deal, visit www.loughboroughtowndeal.co.uk.