About the Legion
10 June 2009
Lafarge Aggregates and the National Memorial Arboretum have scooped the top national award for land restoration. Presented by the Mineral Products Association (MPA) in London, the accolade celebrates the environmental, social and economic benefits resulting from the development of the Arboretum on the site of one of Lafarge's former sand and gravel quarries.
The Arboretum, which recently unveiled plans that will see it transformed into a world-class centre for remembrance, honours the fallen, recognises sacrifice and fosters pride in the country. Ecology and the environment have been at the forefront of the site's development, with more than 50,000 trees having been planted to create beautiful wooded parkland.
With the support of Lafarge, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust and The Royal British Legion, the Arboretum has created a rich tapestry of lakes, ponds, river habitats, grassland, reedbeds and wetland. This, coupled with hedge laying and the building of an otter holt, has promoted wildlife to the extent that a vast array of species are now flourishing on the 150 acre site.
Robert Whetstone, managing director of Lafarge Aggregates and a trustee of the Arboretum, said: "The Alrewas site has been restored into a beautiful, historic and peaceful place of growing international importance. It has come to mean a great deal, both to the Nation and personally to every one of the 300,000 visitors it now attracts every year."
Charlie Bagot Jewitt, chief executive of the National Memorial Arboretum, said: "Extensive collaboration between many organisations has seen this amazing place rise from the base of a former gravel pit. Our visitors marvel constantly at how much has been achieved in the eight years since we opened and this high profile external recognition is wonderful."
Two other Lafarge restoration projects picked up MPA awards, including Lafarge Cement's Cauldon Cement Works in Staffordshire and Lafarge Aggregates' Charing Sand Pit in Kent. Both received plaudits for creating natural habitats, encouraging wildlife and explaining the restoration to local communities.
The MPA Restoration Awards are in their 40th year and reflect the caring and responsible nature of the minerals industry. Lafarge and the Arboretum were awarded the Cooper-Heyman Cup - the premier restoration award for projects of an exceptional standard.
Note to Editors:
The centrally-located National Memorial Arboretum, home to the striking Armed Forces Memorial, comprises 150 acres of trees and memorials devoted to the theme of remembrance. It is free to enter and situated near Lichfield and within the National Forest in Staffordshire.
The Arboretum, which has seen the planting 50,000 trees, was established in 1997 on former sand and gravel workings restored by Lafarge and leased to the Arboretum on a peppercorn rent. It is part of The Royal British Legion family and receives assistance from the Ministry of Defence.