AIDS Memorial Quilts started in 1987, in San Francisco. A man named Cleve Jones painted the name of his best friend, Marvin Feldman, who had died of AIDS, onto a coffin-sized piece of cloth. That piece of cloth became the first panel in the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Cleve and a group of volunteers formed the NAMES Project and soon people from all over America began adding panels to the Quilt – people who had lost a partner, relative, friend or colleague through hIV/AIDS remembering their loved ones by the making of a personalised panel for the Quilt.
Today the Quilt is a powerful visual reminder of the AIDS pandemic. More than 48,000 individual 3-by-6-foot memorial panels — most commemorating the life of someone who has died of AIDS — have been sewn together by friends, lovers and family members. Since 1987, over 14 million people have visited the Quilt at thousands of displays worldwide.
You can find out more about this AIDS Memorial Quilt here.
A group in North Yorkshire, inspired by this, decided to do something similar to remember loved ones who had died in the county. However, because of the stigma and prejudice that surrounded HIV and AIDS then (and sadly, still does today…), they felt that they could not personalise the quilt panels. Instead, on a single panel, a simple white rose was chosen to represent a person who has died from HIV/AIDS in North Yorkshire.
NYAA update their Quilt every year, with white roses lovingly sewn on by partners, relatives, friends, colleagues and the staff and volunteers from NYAA. The North Yorkshire AIDS Memorial Quilt is often displayed at venues around North Yorkshire, and always displayed on World AIDS Day (December 1st). Whenever the Quilt is shown, people have the opportunity to write in a Book of Remembrance that accompanies the Quilt. These Books create a moving record of loved ones lost to AIDS.
Most recently, the North Yorkshire AIDS Memorial Quilt was on display in Northallerton and York, on World AIDS Day 2015.