A Living tribute
The creation of The National Memorial Arboretum
The National Memorial Arboretum was conceived in Washington in 1988 when a visit to Arlington Cemetery and the the National Arboretum by the Director, David Childs, convinced him that these concepts could be merged into something meaningful in Britain.
Nothing would have happened to the idea had he not then become influenced by conversations with Group Captain Leonard Cheshire VC CH DSO** DFC, the founder of the eponymous homes and services, who expressed concern that the debt that was owed to those who had died in the wars of the twentieth century might be forgotten. The Arboretum seemed to be a way to address Leonard Cheshire‘s concerns.
The Appeal to create The Arboretum was launched by the then Prime Minister, John Major, in November 1994. At the time the project had no money and no land. The latter was provided by the generous gifting of 82 acres of reclaimed gravel working alongside the banks of the River Tame, by Redland (now Lafarge) Aggregates. This gift has now been extended to a further 70 acres, including the wildlife lake.
Finally the project was first supported by the armed services and veterans‘ associations but the first planting, in the Spring of 1997, was funded by a grant from The National Forest, within whose boundary The Arboretum lies. The initiative was then shortlisted for a Millennium Commission grant of £1.8M provided such a sum could be match funded. It was, and the result is the Visitor Centre and the country‘s only Millennium Chapel.Being present at creation
Since March 1997 over 40,000 trees have been planted on the site and over fifty dedicated plots created. As with all tree planting nothing can be rushed and part of the visitor‘s pleasure in walking around must surely be gained from the fact that they are in at the beginning as witnesses to creation.
Dedication of the Chapel
The Millennium Chapel was dedicated by the Bishop of Lichfield, The Rt. Revd. Keith Sutton on the 2nd November 2000 and is the only chapel in the country to be dedicated in the Millennium. The picture on the left shows the Bishop with David Childs during the dedication. To see a much larger picture (19kb) just click on the thumbnail.
Official Opening Ceremony
The Arboretum was officially opened by The Duchess of Kent on the 16th May 2001 and the picture at the top of the page shows the Duchess planting the Millennium Yew. If you wish to see a much larger picture (46kb) just click on the thumbnail.
If you would like to see an article and pictures of the opening then please click here.