Created in 1997, the National Memorial Arboretum is a special place that remembers those who have served, and continue to serve, our nation in many different ways. With some 40,000 trees already planted, and over 300 dedicated memorials established on the site, the Arboretum is a living tribute that will forever acknowledge the personal sacrifices made by the armed and civil services of this country.
In order to commemorate the 1914 Christmas Truce, The Football Association (FA) and its partners the Premier League, Football League and British Council created the Football Remembers project. An education initiative that has reached every school in the UK, Football Remembers has sought to teach a new generation the positive messages of the Christmas Truce using the valuable association with modern football. Central to the project was a school design competition, asking children to come up with a lasting memorial to be placed at the NMA. The winning design was by a ten year old boy from Newcastle and was chosen by HRH Duke of Cambridge and England player Theo Walcott.
After the unveiling of the FA memorial, HRH Duke of Cambridge was invited to see the start of Heroes’ Square where the Army pavings have been laid as a temporary measure, until the new Visitor Centre has been completed in November 2016. They will then be moved, alongside the Navy and Air Force which is the next step in the process.
Heroes’ Square and its transitional garden will be the focal point of the stunning new Visitor Centre development at the National Memorial Arboretum. It will be flanked by the Millennium Chapel on one side and by the new building on two other sides, where visitors can gather and memorial events can be held. The open end will look and lead towards the Armed Forces Memorial.
Over 70 regimental secretaries and representatives from the regiments accepted an invitation to come to a reception at the NMA on the 12th December 2014 to mark the formal opening of this section of pavings. The pavings will need to be moved to their final site within Heroes’ Square as the final stages of the building work is completed.
In addition to the military pavings, some pavings will be laid for the Livery Companies. Others will be available for individuals to enable them to mark the memory of family members or friends from the Services who have passed away.
Caroline Cary, Executive Fundraiser for Heroes’ Square, June Beedham, NMA Appeal Manager and Major General Patrick Cordingley are responsible for raising £1.2 million for this project as part of the £15.7 million build that will start in July 2015.
General Cordingley also presented Mr Roger Henderson, a donor to the NMA Appeal for the memorial gardens in Heroes’ Square and six members of the NMA Appeal Council who have been instrumental in the £10.2 million raised to date for the New Visitor Centre.