The National Memorial Arboretum was originally founded as a memorial to the generations that fought and suffered during the two World Wars. Since then it has expanded to include memorials to the emergency services, and most dramatically with the Armed Forces Memorial, commemorating all service personnel who have died since the end of the Second World War.
This account of its foundation was written by David Childs, the man who had the original idea for the arboretum and who played a very major part in turning his original vision into reality. Childs comes across as a very impressive man, with a rare combination of persistence and flexibility, with a willingness to adapt his plans as new possibilities or new ideas cropped up (as well as a commendable ability to know when it was time to step back from direct involvement with the project).
I must admit to a certain local interest in this project, having grown up a few miles away from Alrewas, in a village further up on the River Tame (the arboretum is built where the Tame flows into the Trent). I've visited the site once (coincidently on the same day as a major bikers memorial service at the Arboretum) and was very impressed by the place.
This book serves two purposes – first as a guide to the Arboretum, explaining its history, development and the purpose of each of its sections and second as a splendid example of the value of persistence. A good book about a very worthwhile project.
1 - Millennium Limes: From Vision to Reality
2 - Divinity and Douglas Firs: The Millennium Chapel of Peace and Forgiveness
3 - The Oak and the Ash and the Bonny Silver Birch: The Armed and Merchant Services
4 - Cyprus and Eucalyptus: Theatres of War
5 - Wreaths of Empire: Cold War, Conflicts and the End of Empire
6 - Lilac, Holly, Rose and Rosemary: Women at War and Peace
7 - Chestnuts and Truncheons: The Police and Emergency Services
8 - The Tribute of the Trees: Individual Memorials
9 - The Poppy Tree: A Vision for the Future
Author: David Childs
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2011 paperback of 2008 hardcover