"World War One continues to inspire us – one hundred years on – to undertake acts of remembrance for men and women otherwise long forgotten.
One of the most obvious manifestations of remembrance which continue to touch us today is the countless war memorials up and down the country. Most are typical: stone crosses or statues, surrounded by the names of the young men who never returned home. But some were more ambitious, and none more so than the plots of land which were set aside by communities as spaces of remembrance.
These spaces were designed to encourage both stillness and movement, inward reflection and outward play. In short, places where freedom may be expressed with such ease.
This War Memorial Park in Coventry has to be one of the most extraordinary examples of this. The stunning war memorial, and the many other memorials around the park, are dotted between places where children play football and throw frisbees, families picnic together, or walk the dog. It is a beautiful place – Coventry City Council and the people it serves have every right to be immensely proud of it.
The Centenary Fields project, which I am privileged to launch today, aims to save in perpetuity scores of memorial spaces around the country. Most will not be as large as this, but every one is valued by its community.
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. Working with The Royal British Legion, Fields in Trust will encourage and cajole Local Authorities all across the country to follow Coventry’s lead to safeguard Centenary Fields in their area. I have no doubt that they will succeed, but only if they have help.
I encourage Local Authorities to support this cause and to safeguard these living spaces of remembrance for generations to come.