National Memorial Arboretum

The National Memorial Arboretum, situated near Alrewas in Staffordshire, started life as an area of land which had been quarried in the 1980s and 1990s before being restored to a natural state. Planting at the site began in 1997 and is an ongoing process with over 50,000 trees planted so far. The trees often have relevance to the memorials around them.

More than 400 memorials have been installed by many different groups ranging from military forces to civil services (such as police and fire brigades) to charities and others.

The largest memorial, which the visitor cannot fail to see, is the Armed Forces Memorial (AFM). This magnificent structure is a moving tribute to Armed Forces men and women who have died since World War Two either in conflicts, terrorist attacks or training exercises.

The Portland stone panels of the circular walls are inscribed with the names of more than 16,000 service men and women. Seeing those panels with the space left for more names is, for me, the most emotional experience of all my visits to the Arboretum.

IMG_0263

The opposite view from the marquees, looking across open space at the Armed Forces Memorial.

IMG_0145

IMG_0156

The stone wreath, the focal point of Remembrance services in the AFM.

IMG_0161

One of two sculptures depicting the fallen soldier. The figure on the left is pointing at an open door to eternity, the passage between this world and the next. It is through this break in the wall that on the 11th hour of the 11th day in the 11th month, a shaft of sunlight falls directly on the stone wreath in the central courtyard.

IMG_0163

Sculpture on the other side of the memorial, depicting a casualty who is carried by men representing the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. The grieving relatives of the dead man are depicted on either side of the stretcher. Both these sculptures are powerful and moving. The sculptor is Ian Rank-Broadley.

IMG_5042

One of the panels of the AFM commemorating men who lost their lives in the First Gulf War of 1991 including Bob Consiglio and David Denbury, both of 22 SAS.

 

IMG_1619

One of the recent additions is the Basra Wall, bearing plaques commemorating the lives of soldiers who fought and died in Iraq during the war which began in 2003. The wall and the plaques were dismantled, brought back to England and reconstructed at the Arboretum in 2010. The Basra Wall can now be found halfway along the avenue called The Beat, which runs to the southeast of the Arboretum, on the right of the Armed Forces Memorial that dominates the skyline.

 

The official website of the National Memorial Arboretum can be found at this link:

http://www.thenma.org.uk/index.aspx

The National Memorial Arboretum is a living tribute to those remembered. There are ambitious plans for the future for which funding would be greatly appreciated. Information about the projects can be found at the NMA website or by following this link from here:

http://www.thenma.org.uk/get-involved/fundraising/the-nma-appeal.aspx

and donations can be made at the NMA website or by following this link from here:

http://www.thenma.org.uk/get-involved/donation/making-a-donation.aspx

 

Web Design by Silver Marbles