“The National Memorial Arboretum honours the fallen, recognises service and sacrifice, and fosters pride in our country. It is a spiritually uplifting place and is emerging as a world renowned centre for remembrance.” The National Memorial Arboretum isn’t that far from where I live; it was the idea of David Childs, back in 1988, but didn’t actually open until 13 years later; he believed it would “form a living tribute to the service men and women, for future generations to reflect upon and enjoy”. It wasn’t until 2015 that I visited. I was overwhelmed by the peace, beauty, creativity that was all around and the loving care with which it was maintained. The National Memorial Arboretum was developed from 150 acres of old gravel workings, at the western end of the National Forest. There are over 50,000 trees and more than 300 memorials. There are many, many memorial gardens, often with statuary, commemorating different aspects of the military and auxiliary services: everything from regiments to animals, from the Home Guard to the Land Army, from Army, Navy and Air Force to the Coast Guard and Life Boat Service, as well as wars and conflicts all over the world. I couldn’t even begin to describe the different memorial gardens; it would almost be disrespectful; you need to go and see yourself. The National Memorial Arboretum is an ever-changing and developing concept, with new memorial gardens opening all the time. It’s the sort of place that you want to come back to in about 20 years, when today’s newly planted trees and shrubbery have matured and filled out and more areas have been developed. On the edge of the National Memorial Arboretum, there is the confluence of the rivers Tame and Trent, with a towpath you can stroll along, with your own thoughts and memories. The most incredible place on the whole site is the Armed Forces Memorial with 16,000 names inscribed of those killed in conflict since the end of the Second World War, together with two huge statues of injured service personnel being removed from the battlefield. There is a Millenium Chapel of Peace and Forgiveness, where at 11am each day an Act of Remembrance is held.
I love this tea towel because of its simple design, with falling autumn leaves lightly floating across the ‘canvas’, almost like the falling poppies at the Remembrance Day Service at Albert Hall. In the bottom right hand corner is written ‘National Memorial Arboretum’. It has a sense of peace and beauty. As I use it, I remember that one of my challenges for the year is to walk the National Forest Way which passes through the National Memorial Arboretum and I look forward to doing it.
Click below to return to the Virtual Tea Towel Museum