Winter Newsletter 2007 Please also note: There are a large number of photographs in this Newsletter. To save download time these are mainly shown as thumbnails. If you would like to see larger pictures in a separate window, then just click on the thumbnail. The pictures can be seen in a gallery at the bottom of the page. Most were taken at the dedication of the Armed Forces Memorial. Dear Friends, You will see that we are trying out a new format for the newsletter and I hope that it meets with your approval and you enjoy it as always. I make no apologies for concentrating on our two major events in this newsletter and as there is plenty of general news as well I will start straight away. As most of you will know because of television coverage, Autumn at the Arboretum has been an exciting time for all of us with the dedication and opening of the Armed Forces Memorial being the focus of attention only to be followed very closely by the Remembrance Day Service in November. The volume of visitors since October has just been overwhelming and shows no signs of slowing down. Dedication and Opening of the Armed Forces Memorial The day for the Friends began very, very early in the morning (we had to be there by 6.30 am) but fortunately we were greeted with the lovely smell of breakfast being cooked, so we all sat down to our bacon & egg/sausage butties before starting on a long day. The Arboretum had laid on a small tourist train to run people to and from the car park and we all had fun riding on that as it took us to our various areas of work. I was stationed in the main Arboretum car park overseeing the arrival of our many guests by bus and if any of you arrived that way I can only thank you for your patience and understanding, especially those who arrived very close to the start time for the dedication which then commenced with the arrival of Her Majesty the Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, HRH The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall plus, of course, various other very important dignitaries. The dedication itself, led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, was very, very emotional with music by the RAF Central Band, Winchester Cathedral Choristers and the All Angels. Georgina Chapman, daughter of Darren Chapman who was killed in Iraq, read a letter she had written to her father and Gavin Lloyd, who read a letter that had been left by his brother Richard Lloyd, who died in a peacekeeping mission to Bosnia, for the family to read in the event of his death. The Royal Party then spent quite a long time on the memorial itself talking to families of individuals named on the walls and others associated with its construction. There was then a walk about by the Royal Party who met and talked to many more of the families who had been invited to attend. There was a wonderful flyby by which included a bevy of helicopters, a Tornado, Hercules, Nimrod & Typhoon but unfortunately because the cloud base was very low the parachute drop could not take place. The Royal Signals Band were playing in the large marquee and did a wonderful job with all the old time songs and big band music. The day ended with visitors being allowed up on to the Memorial after which, as you know, the Arboretum was shut to enable work to be completed on the memorial and surrounding Arboretum and filming to take place for the excellent programme which was shown on television on the 4th of November. Since that time there have been several programmes on television which have featured the AFM and, as I said earlier, this has culminated in, on average, a thousand visitors a day and on the 29th of October we had the Official Opening of the AFM to the public. Service of Remembrance : 11th November 2007 This was another long day for the Friends but again we were refreshed with bacon butties and coffee (there is always a reward for an early start). There had been a worry that this would clash with local events and the service in Whitehall as this year it took place on a Sunday but, once again, the Arboretum overflowed with visitors. This was a simple service, but again very emotional. The music was supplied by the West Midlands Police Brass Band and Corps of Drums together with The Warwickshire Band and the soloist, Abigail Rhodes, had the most wonderful voice. The sun hit the hole in the wall‘ at exactly the right time and landed directly on the laurel wreath in the middle of the memorial, just as the designer of the memorial intended it should, and during the ceremony there were many wreaths laid on the central plinth. At the end of the service we had a flyby by a Dakota and a Nimrod. A LETTER FROM CHARLES BAGOT-JEWITT TO ALL THE FRIENDS It has been the most amazing time at the NMA. We have had over 25,000 visitors in November, broken through the 100,000 visitor barrier for the year, played a major part in a State Occasion and delivered a moving Remembrance Sunday Service attended by several thousand. The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Prime Minister, The Secretary of State for Defence and his deputy, and no less than six members of the Royal family have visited in the last two months. How many places in the country could attract that sort of attention?! One comment I have heard consistently is that "your Friends, staff and volunteers are amazing" - and so you are. That everyone has kept cheerful and committed under a huge amount of pressure has been wonderful and I and the Trustees are deeply, deeply grateful. Thank you. I hope now that our numbers will return to slightly more manageable proportions, although a sunny day still seems to bring out a goodly number and I am sure many will wish to visit over the Christmas period. The Christmas launch, with Santa and his Reindeer coming on 7 Dec, promises to be very busy too. I am trying now to work on a sustainable future strategy of staffing and infrastructure that will cope with our new found fame. We have just launched the future foundations appeal, an appeal to 'high net worth's' (jargon for people with very deep pockets!) which we hope will lead to significant capital investment. However, revenue funding remains a huge problem as our grant in aid has fallen far behind the sum that is needed to support the visitor numbers we are now experiencing and although the shop and restaurant are doing really well, they cannot be expected to make good the whole shortfall. What do we do now? I am a great believer that fortune favours those who are prepared to help themselves. We therefore need to do everything we can to raise revenue and to strengthen our hand if we are to gain any additional external financial support. We will introduce a trial car park donation of £2 in the new year (with £10 season ticket) and need to look at ways in which we can improve our outreach and fundraising external to the site. We also need to ensure that our recruitment and training of staff and volunteers works towards best practise elsewhere. Rome won't be built in a day, but I am sure that with the excellent foundations laid at the NMA over the last 10 years we can move forward to the next few hundred with great confidence! A very happy Christmas to you all. FRIEND OF THE YEAR 2007 The Committee have made a decision but we are going to keep you in suspense until we present the award at the AGM in March. Watch this space!! MEMBERSHIP RENEWAL It's that time of year again when we enclose a request for renewal of your membership. We do hope that you will continue your support and, also, spread the word of the activities of the Arboretum to all your friends. Please return the completed form, together with your cheque (made payable to Friends of The National Memorial Arboretum), to Roger Davies-Lee, Membership Secretary, 24 Park Road, Alrewas, Staffordshire, DE13 7AG, Tel: 01283-791218. PUBLICITY We would, of course, still like to hear from you if you know of any other associations or parish magazines which would welcome news about us. So please let Lawrie Walford have a contact name and e-mail address. His details are Tel: 01283-791857 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org LEST WE FORGET - BY LAWRIE WALFORD On 19th August 1995, as a member of the Aircrew Association, I was privileged to attend a service marking VJ Day in Lichfield Cathedral. Before the service begun, I was able to marvel at the faith and skill of the original builders of the Cathedral. The gleaming medals on the chests of some of the members of the congregation proclaimed their faith, skill and bravery in so many different fields. The stirring sermon was given by The Reverend Prebendary Robert Cheadle M.B.E., TD. and was most graphic. At the end, many were in tears and there was spontaneous applause from all of us. He described how, in the early days of the war, his family lived by Keele Hall all woods and park and no neighbours. Until -----Dunkirk . Then, they had neighbours. They had come straight off the beaches, grey with exhaustion and with no rifles or equipment. His mother made endless cups of tea and there were men asleep all over the house. Then, something remarkable happened. There was a broadcast---- The broadcast was of a long poem called The Ballad of the White Horse, by G.K Chesterton, all about King Alfred and his struggle to save England from the Danes. The parallels were obvious, that there are things worth dying for because there are things worth fighting for and living for. It moved Robert to tears at the time as the poem was describing what was happening in fact. When Robert went into the Army, his mother bought him the collected poems of G.K Chesterton. He carried it throughout his service and read it regularly. Bent after five years in his kit bag, he told us he had it still and held it aloft. When he became an Army glider pilot, the words from the poem rang in his ears at the thought of an airborne landing in Japan ------ " Naught for your comfort, Naught for your desire " summed up his feelings exactly. • IMAGINE: The sacrifice of those crews of the merchant ships rescuing the soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk whilst being bombed by German aircraft. And the fortitude of all the troops concerned. • IMAGINE: The hundreds of wives, mothers and girlfriends receiving the news of the loss of their loved one. • IMAGINE: Being an aircrew member on board a Lancaster bomber when it is blown up over enemy territory and you find yourself hurtling to earth as the only survivor, as happened to a member of the RAF Lichfield Association. So, when you hear the drone of the last flying Lancaster bomber of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight , whose motto is "Lest we Forget," think of all the crews that were lost during that period. • IMAGINE: As you tuck into your Sunday lunch in your comfortable home, being a prisoner of war, slaving on the Burma Railway in steaming heat and terrible conditions. • IMAGINE: Escorting the precious merchant convoys across the Atlantic in terrible weather, with the constant threat of attack by a U boat or enemy aircraft. • AND SINCE WORLD WAR II there have been conflicts in which over 15,000 British and Commonwealth Servicemen and Servicewomen have given their lives whilst on duty. The magnificent new Armed Forces Memorial can now be visited at the National Memorial Arboretum with the names of those who gave their lives inscribed on it. And now -------- the current conflicts. • IMAGINE: How soldiers, who have been injured whilst serving in the Middle East, must feel when they are airlifted to a hospital near Birmingham and then hear complaints from people about the noise of the aircraft involved. They deserve our gratitude not our complaints. As you know the best way to support all our Servicemen and Servicewomen is to visit the National Memorial Arboretum, marvel at the dedicated plots, each chosen with care and gratitude, visit the COFEPOW building and the Armed Forces Memorial. So, with this in mind, why not consider purchasing an additional membership to the Friends as a Christmas or birthday present for friends and family. Contact our Membership Secretary (details given above) for further information. COMMANDER DAVID CHILDS RN (Rt'd) Just a note to say that the above gentleman (our founder) is in the process of writing a book on the history of the Arboretum. This will be going to print shortly and we will be offering you the chance to buy a personally signed copy, so watch this space for further information. WORKING WEEKENDS The Friends' working weekends go on as usual, so please get your new diaries out and start the entries with the following dates - 12th/13th January, 9th/10th February, 8th/9th March and 12th/13th April. As usual there will be plenty to do in the Winter months and new friends joining us are very welcome. HELP AT THE ARBORETUM The Arboretum are looking to recruit additional friendly and enthusiastic volunteers to work alongside staff members and existing volunteers, both from within the Friends and from outside sources, to help manage the huge rise in the number of visitors. The Arboretum currently has about 45 active volunteers who range in age from 18 to 86 and assist serving in the shop, receiving visitors, gardening, and as tour guides. Since the opening of the Armed Forces Memorial in October, volunteers have also manned an information point providing help to visitors wanting to find the name of a loved one among the 16,000 men and women which it commemorates. The Arboretum is becoming the nation‘s focal point for remembrance and needs support to achieve its goals. There are opportunities for people with a special skill or interest as well as those with experience of working with the public. All kinds of people volunteer and find it a very rewarding experience, some having worked at the Arboretum since it was little more than a muddy expanse of former quarry over ten years ago. Current volunteers get a great deal from their involvement. Anne Nolan said: "The Arboretum is an amazing place, I never get tired of being here. I love meeting the visitors and being part of a team who care passionately about the Arboretum. I have made great friendships here and had opportunities to be part of all sorts of things I would never have imagined." Ted Collier also enjoys meeting and talking to people. He said: "I feel I am contributing something and having served in the war, I feel I am still serving." Les Wills concluded: "The NMA has given far more to me in the way of companionship & purpose of life than anything I have given in return." To encourage people to find out about just what is involved come along and have a no-obligation chat to Arboretum staff, and other volunteers who will be on hand to share their experiences, an open house event has been organised for the morning of Sunday 13th January 2008 commencing at 10.00 am. ARBORETUM ACTIVITIES ONLY A FEW DAYS TO GO and The Arboretum Shop is full of fantastic Christmas gifts and cards for all the family including Magic Reindeer Food which has been especially blended for you to sprinkle outside your home on Christmas Eve. It will sparkle in the moonlight and guide Rudolph to your house and while Santa gets to work, the reindeer can have a little feast. The Arbor Cafe - is taking bookings for Christmas Meals now! Every Tuesday and Wednesday in December: Waitress served, Traditional Christmas Lunch with Christmas Pudding and Brandy Sauce, Coffee and Mince Pie - £10 adults, £6 children (12 & under). Evenings with Entertainment: Traditional Christmas Lunch, Selection of Desserts, Coffee & Mince Pie - £14 adults, £10 children (12 & under) Santa's Grotto: Saturdays & Sundays until Christmas Day, 11.30 am to 3.30 pm. £5 per person (including grown ups) to include a gift, mince pie and hot chocolate Christmas Carol Concert: Friday the 21st December from 6.00 pm. Wrap up warm for this free traditional, outdoor family event. New Year's Day Brunch Time Walk: From 10.30 am why not join a conducted walk with light lunch. £5 adults, £3.50 children (12 & under) Xmas & New Year Closing/Opening - The Arboretum & Arbor Café will only be closed on Christmas Day this year. Knick-knack Stall - To raise funds during January and February the Arboretum would like to receive any unwanted Christmas Gifts, Bric-a-Brac or anything else you think might declutter your house (no clothes please). These would be gratefully received, so please bring them to the Arboretum and ask for Marianne. ARBORETUM FUTURE DEDICATIONS Sunday, 27th January 2008, 11.00 am - Holocaust Memorial Day Friday, 1st February 2008, 11.00 am - RAF Regiment Annual Service To book, or simply find out more about events and dedications at the NMA, please contact the Arboretum direct Tel: 01283-792333 Email: info @ thenma.org.uk www.nationalmemorialarboretum.org.uk FRIENDS' FUTURE EVENTS 28th December 2007 Christmas Walk: 10.30 am This will take place at Cannock Chasewater and we will meet in the car park at the entrance to Chasewater at 10.30 am. The walk, which will be a pleasant, non taxing ramble (take your binoculars, the area is teeming with wild life), will then be followed by lunch at The Terrace Restaurant which is situated on the A5 where the food is very, very good and can be chosen on the day. As an added incentive (as if you needed one) to come along, Jane & Ken are again very kindly providing hot coffee and mince pies half way round. Precise details and instructions will be posted in The Green Room for those joining us where there is already a form for filling in. However if you haven't yet put your name down and still wish to walk off that Christmas Stodge', then please do so before Wednesday the 19th of December, so get booking! If you don't/can''t walk but still want to join us for lunch you will be just as welcome. Robbie Middlemiss is the organiser this year and you can contact him on 01902-419570. Please make this as good an event as usual but we do need approximately 30 people before the restaurant will open especially for us. Saturday 5th January 2006, 2.00 pm: Epiphany Service Saturday 5th January 2006, 3.30 pm: Bring Your Own' Buffet Party Please join us, you will all be very welcome and make the service and party 'go with a swing'!! Tuesday 18th March 2008: Annual General Meeting: 7.30 pm The Conference Room, Visitor Centre, National Memorial Arboretum, Croxall Road, Alrewas (Official notice given with this newsletter) PHOTO COMPETITION We are going ahead with preparations for the Friends Photo Competition which will now tie in with Remembrance events next November. There are two classes for children, under 11, and 11 - 16 (Any item at the NMA) a special class for Friends (Wildlife at the NMA) and an Open class (Remembrance at the NMA) so get snapping every time you visit the Arboretum so that you can enter your best photos. WILDLIFE ACTIVITIES : RICHARD'S NATURE NOTES Just to remind everyone that the start of the AFM mound construction was timed to begin after the Skylark nesting season was finished. Thanks to the builders and architects. Birds such as Robins and Pied Wagtails are already enjoying the Holm Oaks on the AFM! Hopefully some wetland conservation work will be done in the next few months using money from the National Forest via Staffs Wildlife trust. This will improve the river end of the Darbyshire ditch making it attractive as a fish refuge and in addition it is planned to create a further reed bed area in the low lying land near the Tame and Trent confluence. A recent Wildlife Watch session involved Nick Mott, an expert on otters from Staffs Wildlife Trust and we found evidence of Otter near the wooden otter holt by the Tame, together with lots of evidence of other smaller mammals. Hope some of you can make the Xmas Friends walk - Chasewater is great for wildlife. You might even see deer. Anne Smith Editor 15.12.07 On behalf of the Friends‘ Chairman, Committee and Staff of the Arboretum, may we wish you a merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. I will, as usual, leave you with the following:- ALL IN RED by Eileen Mathias Red for Santa‘s fur-lined cloak And his scarlet hood. Red for the holly berries Gleaming in the wood. Red for the breast Of the bravest little bird, R-E-D for the brightest Christmas word. Red for the glow of the yule-log light And the little crimson slippers That Santa left last night. Red for the paper lanterns Hanging from the wall. Of the many Christmas colours Red‘s the best of all.