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Commemorating Lives Among the Trees


Also commemorating its 20th Anniversary this year, The National Memorial Arboretum was founded by Commander David Childs as ‘a place where people’s lives would be commemorated among living trees that would grow and mature in a ‘world at peace’’.

Former Prime Minister John Major launched a nationwide fundraising campaign back in 1994 to raise the money required to design and build the Arboretum. With a former gravel pit (now tarmac) gifted by Redland Aggregates, and financial donations from a range of organisations and individuals – matched by the National Lottery’s Millennium Commission – vital funds were secured to get the initiative underway. A grant for planting the earliest trees was provided by the National Forest based in the Midlands, and by 1997, the first saplings were planted and the foundations for the National Memorial Arboretum were laid. A year later, the first memorial arrived: dedicated to the 49th West Riding Infantry Division, the ‘Polar Bear Memorial’ was inspired by their nickname following their World War II actions in Iceland and Norway.

In 2001, the Arboretum was ready to welcome its first visitors and it was officially opened on 16 May by Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent. Finally, David Child’s vision became a reality as, in his words, “a bridge between the past and future.”

Twenty years after first opening its gates, today, the National Memorial Arboretum has nearly 400 memorials dedicated to military, civilian, emergency services, volunteer organisations, youth groups and charities. An inspirational landscape planted with 25,000 maturing trees, the Arboretum welcomes visitors from all walks of life to celebrate and commemorate the lives lost in service.

As part of the 20th Anniversary celebrations, the Arboretum has laid out plans and ambitions for the future, making three pledges in which they commit to continue to engage people in remembrance, adopt and advocate for sustainable practices, and nurture a space which is inclusive and accessible to all.

Sustainability and caring for the environment in which the Arboretum is located is extremely important to all of those who are involved with it, including the numerous volunteers who dedicate so many hours each year to maintaining the grounds, welcoming visitors and teaching young people.

With a diverse range of habits for wildlife including woodland, meadows, lakes, wetlands and rivers, many animals, birds and insects have also found a sanctuary in the area. For people who are interested in trees, the Arboretum is planted with a diverse range of trees including many native species which are planted alongside more unusual trees from around the world.

The Arboretum offers visitors many opportunities to take part in a range of activities including woodland walks, which has been shown to have beneficial effects on reducing stress. Not only does it serve as a place for people to people to reflect and remember but spending time outdoors in a beautiful landscape has a significant benefit on people’s mental health and wellbeing. Visitors can take their dogs into some parts of the grounds and the Arboretum offers a range of learning experiences for all ages.

Entry to the Arboretum is free and it is open year-round except on Christmas Day. The number of visitors each day is limited, so pre-booking is recommended to guarantee entry. For further information and to pre-book your tickets, please visit


Mon 2 May 2022

It’s a strange thing to be confronted by a famous face whether in the flesh or over Zoom; you never know when you’ll be a little starstruck. Anton du Beke has spent most autumn weekends in my living room for the past eight years but despite that, I had no idea what to expect when we arranged to speak ahead of his ‘Audience With’ at the Wycombe Swan in May. 

Tue 1 Mar 2022

You Will See The Doctor Now

Star of Social and Mainstream Media, Dr Nighat Arif

When we were brainstorming ground-breaking women to interview for this issue, I knew who was first on my list to approach. Meeting again over Zoom, I start by apologising for the fact that, when we met, I had no idea ‘who she was’ and thankfully, she laughed…  

OFFPFCF Banner 2022 h6mmga
Mon 16 May 2022

After a 2-year hiatus, QED Comedy Laboratory are delighted to announce the return of the Oxford Comedy Festival this July. It will run from 1st-30th July in various venues across the city.

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Fri 13 May 2022

Sunshine Cat Rescue is always looking for fun and new ways to fundraise. We are currently holding our 2nd Eco Balloon race and are looking to sell balloons to help raise money for the cats and kittens in care.