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The positivity of local people during the pandemic has been commemorated in a piece of artwork at Arrow Valley Countryside Park.

On 13 April 2020, a few weeks after the first UK lockdown began, local young person Lauren Mernagh, got creative in a bid to lift people’s spirits. She began by painting positive messages on rocks and stones and leaving them along her street for passers-by and from this the Redditch Positivity Rock Line was born.

Over the course of the next few weeks the campaign expanded and residents and visitors, young and old, painted and left approximately 7,000 rocks in a trail right around the park.

These rocks have now been collected up and, with the help of the borough council and the Positivity Rocks community organisers, have been turned into a piece of artwork with a commemorative plaque, marking positivity during a time that was difficult for many and recognising this wonderful community project.

The rocks have been arranged by colour and shaped into the form of a rainbow, symbolic of the pandemic, and have been covered with Perspex to protect them from weather damage. The piece has been designed to make it easy to read the rocks inside and for visitors to be able to walk right around the outside.

Unfortunately, it was impossible to use all 7,000 rocks for many reasons including fading, the quality of the paint used, some were made from brick, some didn’t fit etc. so a cross section of around 1,000 were taken to create the artwork in representation of Redditch people.

Lauren said: “After all of our planning, our ideas have made it into a reality. It feels crazy how my one idea of a rock line to cheer people up has turned into an art display. Thank you to everybody who got involved and supported me throughout this process, I’m forever grateful. Enjoy the display!”

Leisure Portfolio Holder, Cllr Mike Rouse, said: “The display is a testament to the NHS and social care workers, but also to the thousands of families across Redditch who suffered or endured the COVID-19 pandemic, whether personally affected by the virus or by having to cope with multiple lockdowns and restrictions on our daily lives.

“A painted rock added to the end of the line was a way of keeping our Redditch community connected without contact, each stone physically touching the other whilst we could not do so, reminding us that we were all pulling through this pandemic together. Lauren and her friends have created something poignant and fitting for our time, and everyone involved has my full thanks and admiration.”

Council Leader, Cllr Matt Dormer, said: “I am very proud of the way the Redditch community has come together during the pandemic to help, support, protect and inspire each other. This artwork will be a lasting reminder of that, capturing a moment in time. Lauren, her family and those involved in making it happen should be very proud.”

An event is currently being planned for mid to late September, in which the spare stones that didn’t make it into the artwork will be laid out in the park and residents or visitors can come and view them and take one away as their own personal commemoration. Firm details of the event will be issued later next month.

More details about the campaign and the commemorative artwork are available here.