New memorial honours legacy of body donors

A new memorial stone has been installed in Abercromby Square to honour those who have donated their bodies to the University for medical education and science.

The memorial was unveiled as part of a special virtual Service of Thanksgiving held by the Human Anatomy Resource Centre (HARC) for the families and friends of donors from the past two years.

Speaking at the service on Wednesday, Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Janet Beer said: “There is no typical donor, but what they do all have in common is that they are incredibly brave and generous individuals. We owe a great debt to them and to their families and friends for supporting their decision. It is right that these generous individuals are properly honoured and remembered for their gift to society and we hope that the new memorial stone is seen as a fitting tribute.”

During the poignant online service, the names of the 74 donors were read out by current HARC students and a candle lit in each of their memories at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral’s Crypt Hall. Photos and stories of the donors were shared by families and friends, and personal reflections and tributes were given by staff and former students. The service also included a poem written by a donor’s loved one and ended with an emotional performance of You’ll Never Walk Alone by the University’s Chamber Choir.

Professor Nathan Jeffery, Director of HARC, said: “I have the great pleasure of leading a dedicated team who maintain the highest standards of care for the bequeathed and ensure that the maximum educational and research benefit is gained from every single donation.

“More than a thousand students pass through our doors each year. This year is no exception despite the challenges.  Around 600 of these students are training to become doctors. Others include student dentists, nurses, radiographers and anatomists. We have also managed to support a range of research projects this year, from work on bone disease to how the body changes and adapts in old age.  All this, and more is only made possible thanks to my colleagues and especially thanks to our donors.”

The HARC team received many kind messages after the service, with one donor’s family member writing: “Thank you so much for a very fitting tribute today. It was really informative and comforting to hear from the students, doctors and staff at HARC. My dad would have really enjoyed watching that to know what goes on and what a difference a donor can make to others. Thank you again for your kind words and we look forward to being able to visit the memorial stone. This is a lovely gesture.”

The service also paid tribute to the HARC team’s beloved colleague Julie Clarke, who was the centre’s Deputy Technical Manager and who sadly passed away earlier this year.