The guest speakers at our February meeting were Mike and Lynda Garforth, who gave an illustrated talk about the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.
It was Commander David Childs who had the idea of establishing a living and lasting memorial to commemorate members of the military and civilians, who gave their lives in service of their country. The transformation of the site from its previous use as gravel workings into what can be seen today is remarkable.
Planting began in 1997 and the first memorial to be placed at the Arboretum was the Polar Bear Memorial dedicated in June 1998 in tribute to the 49th West Riding Infantry Division. The Arboretum was officially opened to the public in May 2001. The Armed Forces Memorial was dedicated in 2007 to those who have lost their lives on duty or as an act of terrorism since the Second World War.
The site is part of the Royal British Legion and the Chapel is the only place in the UK where a two minute silence is observed every day. The memorials are impressive, using a variety of materials and varying in size. Temporary exhibits are displayed and special events are held throughout the year.
Mike and Lynda Garforth have visited several times and their photographs showed how the site has developed over the past 20 years. The trees have matured and many more memorials have been added. The speakers’ presentation and photographs gave everyone in the audience the opportunity to appreciate the importance of this national place of remembrance.
Our next meeting will be held at 5pm on Friday 25th March at the Archives Office in the Public Library, Ramsden Square. Archivist Susan Benson will talk about “The History of the Library Service in Barrow.” Everyone is welcome to attend and the admission charge will be £2.00 each.