A dedication event took place on Saturday May 21 at the Redoubt Gardens in Eastbourne to mark the site’s protection, forever, as a Centenary Field.
Fields in Trust, in partnership with The Royal British Legion, is delivering the Centenary Fields programme to protect war memorial playing fields, parks and green spaces in memory of those who served or lost their lives during World War I.
The plaque unveiling ceremony at the Redoubt Gardens, Eastbourne was attended by outgoing Royal British Legion Chairman John Crisford, along with his successor in the post Terry Whittles, both of whom were participating in The RBL National Conference in Eastbourne. This UK-wide programme is a unique way to commemorate the centenary of World War I. It gives land owners, the opportunity to dedicate space to remember the sacrifices of those who gave their lives during the conflict, but also to ensure that future generations have valuable green space to enjoy as a living legacy.
Centenary Fields protected through the programme can be war memorial parks or recreation grounds, memorial gardens, parks and recreation grounds that contain war memorials or other significant green spaces. Redoubt Gardens is home to a tree and plaque honouring the memory of former Eastbourne resident and World War I veteran Henry Allingham who died in 2009 aged 113; these gardens join a recreation ground in Somerset, recently dedicated as a Centenary Field, which was purchased by public subscription as a memorial to those who served or were lost in the war and where in 1921 their War Memorial was unveiled in the presence of the Last Fighting Tommy, Harry Patch.
Speaking at the launch of the project, in 2014, Fields in Trust President HRH The Duke of Cambridge said: “The Centenary Fields project aims to save in perpetuity scores of memorial spaces around the country. Each moment of play or leisure that takes place on a Memorial Field is, in a way, an act of remembrance. I am delighted that Fields in Trust have identified these Centenary Fields as a vital part of our national heritage and well-being, which we cannot take for granted. I encourage Local Authorities to support this cause and to safeguard these living spaces of remembrance for generations to come.”
Fields in Trust Chief Executive Helen Griffiths comments “This programme is a fitting way for us to mark the sacrifices made by so many in World War I whilst looking to the future through a living remembrance. We are delighted that communities across the UK are embracing Centenary Fields, commemorating the centenary of World War I for local people in a way they can appreciate forever. We look forward to many more landowners following their lead.”
In addition to the Eastbourne event there were similar unveilings across the UK last weekend, at the Cumbernauld Community Memorial Peace Garden in North Lanarkshire and Bellvue Park, Wrexham each marking the dedication of spaces as Centenary Fields. Cumbernauld Community Memorial Peace Garden has been created as new recreational space from a formerly vacant and overgrown area of land to establish a war memorial in a place that has not had one before now. The Wrexham dedication falls as we approach the 100th anniversary the Battle of Mametz Wood which saw thousands killed from the Royal Welch Fusiliers. A further event in Northern Ireland in July will mark the protection of Bentra Golf Course as a Centenary Field and safeguard this recreational land in perpetuity. Bentra Golf Course & Whitehead Diamond Jubilee Wood was home to the Whitehead Aerodrome from 1915 to 1917, the first military aviation facility in Ireland.
- Image above from the Dedication ceremony shows L-R, Terry Whittles & John Crisford,Royal British Legion; Cllr. Steve Wallis, Eastbourne; Angela Lewis, Fields in Trust.