The nation’s commemorations will be focused at Staffordshire’s National Memorial Arboretum, twenty years after the first trees were planted.
The national centre for remembrance has over 30,000 trees and over 330 memorials, sited on 150 acres of former quarried land in Alrewas in Staffordshire. It includes the famous Armed Forces Memorial, dedicated in 2007 which honours members of the Armed Forces who have died in service.
The site attracts people not only from Staffordshire, but from across the country, and the world. Around 300,000 visitors a flock to the site, contributing £25m to the local economy. In the last two years alone, the site has hosted 15 royal visits and many political figures have toured the site, including David Cameron when he was Prime Minister.
To cope with increased visitor numbers, new learning facilities, and Heroes Square for large events, a major £15.7m project to create a new Remembrance Centre featuring improvements was completed in October 2016. The official opening of the new facilities is planned for later this month.
Staffordshire County Council, who provided funding of £3m for the project has reaffirmed its commitment to help develop the site into a world-recognised centre of remembrance.
Philip Atkins, Leader of Staffordshire County Council said: “We are incredibly proud to have the National Memorial Arboretum here in Staffordshire in the heart of the country. This is an investment in the county’s national and international reputation with the goal of making the attraction a world class centre of remembrance. It’s hard to believe that it is twenty years since the first trees were planted and we are sure the site will continue to be a symbolic place to learn, remember and commemorate. We look forward to welcoming many more visitors to the site and hope that visitors will take the chance to experience our other wonderful remembrance sites, such as the Commonwealth Graves and the German Military cemetery on Cannock Chase.”
The National Memorial Arboretum has 40 new memorials planned, including, a National Memorial to British Victims of Oversees Terrorism and a National Police Memorial. The next phase of development at the site will see the creation of a new purpose-built pavilion for remembrance events of all sizes.