Ground broken for a new national Remembrance Centre
Dame Penelope Keith, assisted by Sea Cadet Beth Molyneux (10), today broke the ground for the construction of an inspiring new Remembrance Centre at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, which is part of The Royal British Legion.
The new centre is required as a result of the Arboretum’s rapid growth in popularity, its increased national significance and a desire to attract new visitors.
During the event Dame Penelope, a member of the Arboretum’s fundraising Appeal Council, read out a message of support from the patron of the project, HRH The Duke of Cambridge. In it he mentioned how this development provides an exciting new addition to a “very special place”.
In front of an audience of supporters, trustees and the project team, Sea Cadet Molyneux shared her moving poem explaining why she wears a poppy in memory of her father. Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux was shot and killed on board HMS Astute as it was docked in Southampton in April 2011.
Dame Penelope Keith and Sea Cadet Beth Molyneux
Having successfully raised £10.7m towards its £15.7m fundraising goal, the Arboretum is starting construction work in order to complete the project by late 2016. It will see the creation of a Remembrance Centre which will inspire, inform and educate up to 500,000 visitors per year, including up to 25,000 schoolchildren on organised visits.
Patron of the National Memorial Arboretum Appeal, HRH The Duke of Cambridge, said: “I am delighted that work is now to begin on building the new visitor centre. The Arboretum is a place of sanctuary, but also a place of education and those who visit deserve to be looked after when they are here. “I am grateful to the National Memorial Arboretum management team and the Appeal Council for working so hard to make this visitor centre possible. In just over a year’s time the project will be complete – an exciting new addition to this very special place – and I look forward to seeing it in person.”
National President of The Royal British Legion, Vice Admiral Peter Wilkinson CB CVO, said: “Since 2001, the Arboretum, which is part of the Legion and home to the iconic Armed Forces Memorial, alongside over 300 other memorials, has rapidly established itself as part of the national consciousness. It is a source of great pride for our nation and we are pleased to mark this vital step in its further development.”
The project has been supported by many individuals and organisations including lead funders Staffordshire County Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
NMA Appeal Chair Major General Patrick Cordingley
Philip Atkins, Leader of Staffordshire County Council, said: “We are incredibly proud to have the National Memorial Arboretum here in Staffordshire and it’s great to see work get underway on the exciting plans. The Arboretum has fast become a symbolic place to learn, remember and commemorate and we will continue to support it to help it achieve its aim of becoming a world class centre of Remembrance.”
West Midlands Trustee of the Heritage Lottery Fund Marion Blockley, said: “The National Memorial Arboretum has been the UK’s main centre for Remembrance for well over a decade. We are delighted that, thanks to National Lottery players, we have been able to support the interpretation of Remembrance for visitors, and are thrilled that work is now getting underway. We applaud the project’s ambitions to stimulate debate around what Remembrance means to individuals and are pleased that it will attract people from even more diverse groups to visit the Arboretum.”