The Royal British Legion yesterday launched the Remembrance Glade, a new tree-lined space at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, redefining ways to reflect on the service and sacrifice of the Armed Forces community and their families. At the opening, the RBL’s National Chairman Una Cleminson and members of the Armed Forces community, planted the final Himalayan birch tree, completing the new Remembrance space to honour those whose sacrifices gave us the freedoms we enjoy today.
Situated within the Arboretum’s 150-acre garden and woodland site and next to the Royal British Legion Poppy Field, the Remembrance Glade features symbolic structures and plants to encourage a new generation of visitors to explore and reflect on what Remembrance means to them. Each plant has been specially chosen for its symbolism and to reflect the changing seasons. From the willow trees that represent grief to the daffodils that symbolise new beginnings, the Remembrance Glade enables visitors to immerse themselves in nature and contemplate in a calm and peaceful space.
The new Remembrance Glade only contains materials found in the natural environment, with curved oak sculptures leading into a circular sanctum surrounded by white-stemmed Himalayan birches, to create a sense of harmony and unity. Opening in the RBL’s centenary year, visitors will take a journey of Remembrance culminating at a central mirrored sculpture, which reflects light to inspire truth and provoke contemplation.
Catherine Davies, Head of Remembrance for The Royal British Legion, said: “The Remembrance Glade is a tranquil space open throughout the year for people to connect with and reflect on what Remembrance means to them. It offers a peaceful oasis for personal reflection, surrounded by trees and plants of symbolic meaning, designed to give visitors respite from daily cares and a place to contemplate the meaning of Remembrance in the beautiful setting of the National Memorial Arboretum.
As the RBL marks its Centenary, our mission remains to make Remembrance available to and inclusive of everyone and in providing new and different ways to participate in Remembrance, such as the Remembrance Glade, we hope to build a legacy that lasts for the next 100 years and beyond.”
Philippa Rawlinson, Managing Director of the National Memorial Arboretum, said: “We know how important nature is to our mental health and wellbeing, with many people using outdoor spaces to reflect on their lives and remember loved ones. The Remembrance Glade is a very welcome addition to our 150-acre site, and we hope visitors will find its inspirational design uplifting.”
Terry Barnett, a British Army Veteran who helped plant the last tree, said: “Spaces like the Remembrance Glade are really important for contemplation. I know from my own experiences of creating mindfulness, just how instrumental they are for veterans like myself. For me, Remembrance doesn’t just have to be confined to two minutes on Remembrance Sunday, it can be any moment in any day when thoughts of service and sacrifice comes into my mind. I think this will become a much-loved place not only for the Armed Forces Community, but for everyone to have the chance to discover what Remembrance means to them and take time to reflect.”
The Royal British Legion has also partnered with the National Literary Trust to create a range of Remembrance educational resources for children in Key Stages 1-4. These, along with Community engagement packs, will be available in the Autumn to inspire visitors and groups to take part in their own Remembrance activities after they’ve experienced the Remembrance Glade.
The Glade is open to the public and is available to visit at the National Memorial Arboretum which is open every day except Christmas Day. Entry to the site is free, however, pre-booking is recommended to guarantee entry. Please visit the website for full information www.thenma.org.uk