The National Memorial Arboretum is set in 150 acres of woodland in stunning Staffordshire. I had been expecting it to, mostly, be a lot of dedicated trees. However, alongside the boughs and branches there are a whole heap of other memorials. To the ATS. To the Post Office. To the Navy. So many groups are represented with permanent memorials. It is well worth a visit if you are in the area. I would recommend a sturdy pair of shoes. The place is vast.
And a few short weeks ago, as Blighty was battered by some pretty hefty winds, the Beard and I headed there for a very special unveiling. As the winds howled and the clouds rolled over us in hues of white, gunmetal, purple,and deepest grey, dumping stinging rain on us at regular intervals, a gathering of very awesome ladies had arrived to finally see a memorial to their personal contribution.
Although I was hovering somewhere near that back for the official bits, with a camera that was just about to give up the ghost (6 years of being flung around the bottom of various bags will do that to a photosnapper), I did manage to grab some pictures of the statue. I have followed the progress of this artwork and was thrilled to see it in person.
With arms linked, axe and pitchfork in hand and a dead rat at their feet, the Land Girl and the Lumber Jill stand proud for many more generations to come.
Despite the weather and the Royal wait of 45 minutes due to the winds and helicopters not being the best of friends, there was laughter and smiles all round when the memorial was dedicated.
Seeing the statue reminded me of one special former Land Girl I met on VE Day 2010. I had a brief chat with Iris Halfpenny on that day, but had not seen her since at any other events. Sadly, I missed her at this one.
So, imagine my surprise when, looking through photos of the day on the WLA Tribute FaceBook page, I spied a familiar face. I am sad to have missed her, but am so pleased that she and her friends wore a full uniform.
A very special thank you to Susan Crawford and her wonderous Wartime Pullover that has raised a whole heap so far and is still available for purchase.
A massive merci buckets to all those social media savvy friends who helped promote the charity via their own blogs & Twitter feeds. You rock.
The WLA Tribute fundraising was promoted here ~ and still is as funds for maintenance are still needed ~ and I am thankful to all of you who spared what you could to make this memorial a reality.