War memorial at Alrewas 'in danger of falling into disrepair'
A national war memorial honouring thousands of serviceman is in danger of falling into disrepair, according to its trustees.
Increased visitor numbers at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas has led to the site becoming “tired”, according to trustee and Gulf War Veteran Major General Patrick Cordingley.
The arboretum is home to Armed Forces Memorial, which commemorates the lives of 16,000 service men and women killed on duty or by terrorist action since the end of the Second World War.
The site, which opened 12 years ago, was designed to cope with 60,000-100,000 visitors per year, but annual visitor numbers have topped 300,000 over the last two years.
The Arboretum recently launched the £8 million NMA Future Foundations Appeal to revamp existing facilities.
Appeal chairman Major Gen Cordingley, who was the British commander during the first Gulf War, said: “The facilities are very tired and in danger of falling into disrepair.”
Maj Gen Cordingley also called on the Government to match every pound raised by the appeal for the NMA, which is funded by the Ministry of Defence, the Royal British Legion and fund-raising activities.
Plans include a new education facility, a veterans pavilion to hold major memorial services, plus improvements to the existing chapel.
A NMA spokesman said: “There is no ‘crisis’ but we do need to raise £8 million urgently.
“The facilities were built to for 60,000 to 100,000 visitors a year but we have had 300,000 visitors and the cracks are beginning to show. For the service on Remembrance Sunday, we had to had to hold it on a muddy field with three semi-permanent marquees, which is neither fitting nor appropriate.”
The chapel is currently the only place in the UK where a remembrance service and two-minute silence is held every day.
The spokesman added that the existing chapel is “struggling to cope” with visitor numbers.
“It only needs a couple of coach parties and there is not enough room and we have to have speakers outside,” he said.
“Our education centre, which is vital to educate future generations, can take up to 30 pupils at a time and last year we had 4,000 children visit.”