By Margaret Sheard…..
We had originally planned to visit the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, UK when we were to visit the UK in November for a wedding, however, due to unforeseen circumstances it was necessary to make a trip to the UK in August and this coincided with the unveiling of the Cyprus Rock and so we were able to attend this momentous occasion.
The previously planned trip for November included a visit to the Arboretum in order that we could see the Rock in its final resting place and we decided to keep to this arrangement and take advantage of seeing more of the Arboretum and the monuments and memorials to so many people who had lost their lives in wars and conflicts over many decades..
As our visit was very soon after Remembrance Sunday, I asked Brian Thomas, the Chairman of The Royal British Legion, Kyrenia Branch, if he would like us to place a token on the Rock on behalf of RBL and at the Kyrenia Remembrance service at the Old British Cemetery he passed a wreath to me to take to the UK and some small wooden crosses to also place at the Cyprus Rock Memorial.
The National Memorial Arboretum was our first port of call when we arrived in the UK and on Wednesday 16th November we made our way to the Arboretum and first visited the area where the Cyprus Memorial Rock has been placed. There were a few wreaths already laid there and many crosses. I must say that the Rock looks very impressive and a credit to David Littlemore who made this memorial a reality.
There were personnel from RAF Cosford working at the Arboretum tending the rose garden and generally tidying up part of the huge site. We chatted with Senior Aircraftsman Daniel Huddlestone and he kindly took a few photographs for us when we placed the RBL wreath on the Cyprus Memorial Rock. He had been to Cyprus, as had some of the other members of the garden detail so it was interesting to hear their recollections.
There wasn’t a lot of time available as we were due to travel north but we found there was a tour of the Arboretum which was about to start so we boarded the little train and off we went. I don’t think I could have walked around as the Arboretum is so vast so this was a nice way to see most of the many memorials and we had a commentary throughout which was very helpful. I was so pleased to see that towards the end of the tour after passing a large lake, we could see the Mediterranean area on our right and the Cyprus Rock could be seen in all its glory through the trees.
The Reception area has moved to a new much larger building than the one we previously visited in August, the old building has now been demolished. There were many visitors on that cold and overcast November day which was nice to see and shows the respect and interest in the fallen of many wars and conflicts.
I am so pleased that we visited again and were able to lay a wreath for RBL in memory of the 371 British personnel and 21 Policemen who lost their lives during the Cyprus Emergency 1955-59.
The additional work involved with the inscribing of regimental badges on the plinth and the inclusion of the Policemen on the memorial increased the budgeted expenditure so in order to help David Littlemore to settle all of the bills and for future maintenance, if you are able to make a donation please click here