Presenter Ellie Harrison took viewers on a tour of the Nation’s year-round place to remember, exploring the importance of Remembrance and how volunteers are essential to the smooth running of the 150-acre garden and woodland site.
During the hour-long programme, Ellie learned about how the Arboretum has grown over the 20 years since it opened to the public, transforming a tract of former quarry workings into an inspirational living landscape. Speaking to Philippa Rawlinson, Managing Director of the Arboretum and Interim Remembrance Lead at the Royal British Legion (RBL), Ellie discovered the diversity of the more than 400 memorials which are dedicated to members of the Armed Forces, emergency services and community and voluntary groups who have served our country.
Ellie got stuck in helping a team of volunteers create a new herb garden to support the Arboretum’s pledge to reduce food miles and offer more sustainable food options in the coffee shop, restaurant and the Aspects conference and events building. While helping Andy Ansell, Head of Estates, plant some Hamamelis saplings as part of the site’s aspiration to create a National Collection, Ellie discussed the Arboretum’s aspiration to create a new Memorial Woodland dedicated to all those who have lost their lives as a result of the pandemic.
The programme also explored the evolution of RBL over its first 100 years, the Field of Remembrance at the Arboretum containing 18,000 individual tributes and how the Poppy Appeal provides invaluable support to members of the Armed Forces community. Ellie spoke to Chantelle Wynn who received support from RBL after losing her husband Ryan, a British Army reservist who did a tour of Afghanistan, to PTSD a few days after Remembrance Sunday 2015.
Sue Elliott, a veteran of the Women's Royal Naval Service (“Wrens”) and longstanding volunteer at the Arboretum closed the programme by reading the immortal words of John McCrae’s poem In Flanders Fields.
“It was a pleasure to work with Ellie Harrison and the Countryfile team to showcase our stunning 150-acre site and emphasise the importance of year-round Remembrance,” said Philippa Rawlinson. “As we mark 100 years of the Royal British Legion supporting the Armed Forces community and 20 years since the National Memorial Arboretum opened to the public, it was fantastic to let viewers peek behind the curtain and discover how our incredible team of staff and volunteers keep the Arboretum running while sharing our ambitious plans for the future.”
The National Memorial Arboretum welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors each year for Acts of Remembrance, family days out and a wide range of events. It offers excellent visitor amenities and pre-booking is recommended to guarantee entry.
For further information and to pre-book visits to the National Memorial Arboretum, please click here.