Staffordshire’s National Memorial Arboretum – the UK’s year-round centre of Remembrance – has marked its 20th anniversary by revealing plans for a new memorial woodland to remember lives lost in the pandemic.
Joining forces with the National Forest Company, the Arboretum aims to expand its current 150-acre woodland and garden site by another 25-acres to create a living memorial to every person who has lost their life as a result of the pandemic.
The announcement, which comes 20 years after the Arboretum first opened its doors to the public, is also part of a new, ambitious vision for modern Remembrance which has sustainability, accessibility, and inclusion at its core.
Plans are now being developed to transform existing scrubland and a silt pond into a Memorial Woodland: an inspirational living landscape, representing the changing seasons, where people can gather to reflect and contemplate the impact of the pandemic and remember loved ones who have died as a result.
It will feature diverse wildlife habitats and reflective glades, areas for gathering and play, an inclusive space for worship, and an expansive lake. Groundworks for the new memorial woodland are set to begin in early 2022, and it is hoped that public access to the woodland will begin in 2023.
News of the development comes as the Arboretum, at Alrewas, near Lichfield, commemorates the transformation of a former quarry works into the nation’s centre of remembrance with almost 400 memorials amongst more than 25,000 maturing trees.
From an idea which first took shape in 1994, the Arboretum officially opened its doors to the public on 16 May 2001, as a young, living tribute that celebrated lives lived and remembered lives lost.
To mark the event, a brand new online exhibition, ‘The Arboretum at 20’, explores its foundation and history, the memorials, stories and its people.
Much has changed since 2001, but the National Memorial Arboretum’s purpose has remained the same: to be the Nation’s year-round place to remember, an inspirational living landscape and world-class setting, freely open to all.
Today the National Memorial Arboretum, which is part of The Royal British Legion family of charities, normally sees around 300,000 visitors a year.
It is also home to the Armed Forces Memorial, the UK’s tribute to over 16,000 men and women who have been killed on duty or as a result of terrorist action since 1948 to the present day. Names are added annually to the giant Portland stone walls.
The National Memorial Arboretum is open to pre-booked visitors. Tickets are released each Thursday and can be booked up to 2 weeks in advance. People visiting the Arboretum must follow the latest government guidance relating to travel and social distancing.
For more details about the Arboretum, see https://thenma.org.uk
General tourist information about visiting, and staying in, Staffordshire is available at http://www.enjoystaffordshire.com.