His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge visited War Memorial Park, Coventry today to launch Centenary Fields, a national initiative which aims to protect war memorial fields, parks and green spaces created in memory of those who lost their lives during the First World War.
Led by national charity Fields in Trust, in partnership with The Royal British Legion, Centenary Fields will ensure at least one of these spaces is protected in each local authority throughout the UK, creating a nationwide living legacy from the First World War Centenary.
During his visit to War Memorial Park, Coventry – the first green space to be dedicated as part of the Centenary Fields programme – His Royal Highness laid a wreath at the foot of the war memorial, which was dedicated by Field Marshal Earl Haig in 1927 as one of his last official acts as President of the Legion before his death. Following this, the Duke took part in sport and educational activities and helped local school children sow poppy seeds as part of the Legion's Centenary Poppy Campaign.
His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge, President of Fields in Trust, who unveiled a plaque at the park and signed the Centenary Fields Deed of Dedication, said:
"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."
The Duke also met with Graham Williams, the great-nephew of VC recipient Arthur Hutt of The Royal Warwickshire Regiment, at the park's memorial in his honour. Corporal Hutt was the first person to be born in Coventry that was awarded the Victoria Cross for his role during the battle of Passchendaele in the First World War.
Children from Howes Primary presented The Duke with examples of First World War themed work they have produced and invited him to take part in a poppy planting session. The school's Centenary work has been guided by The Royal British Legion's learning pack, which is available to schools free as part of the Legion's commitment to promoting Remembrance to young people.
Following this, The Duke undertook a walkabout through the park and joined children involved in the Inspire2Coach tennis programme and a local school sports day, demonstrating the range of activities that valuable green spaces such as the War Memorial Park, Coventry provide to local communities.
John Crisford, National Chairman of The Royal British Legion, said:
"As the nation's Custodian of Remembrance, the Legion has a special role to play in the UK's Centenary commemorations. Our partnership with Fields in Trust ensures that we are helping to preserve these important memorials, often found in community spaces that form a vital part of local heritage and play a key role in educating the next generation about the significance of Remembrance."
Parks and playing fields are a vital component of healthy and happy communities providing positive opportunities for all kinds of sport and play. Fields in Trust works to safeguard these spaces against potential future commercial and residential development.
The spaces protected by the Centenary Fields programme were created in response to a public desire to mark the unprecedented loss of life in WW1. War memorial parks, playing fields and gardens gave communities a much needed space to come together in both recreation and remembrance and, through this new joint initiative, they will continue to fulfil this purpose for generations to come.
Tim Phillips, Chairman of Fields in Trust, said:
"Today marks the beginning of this nationwide initiative as the War Memorial Park in Coventry is officially designated the first 'Centenary Field’'by our President The Duke of Cambridge.
"This programme is a fitting way for us to mark the sacrifices made by so many in WW1 whilst looking to the future through a living remembrance.
"We look forward to working with The Royal British Legion to preserve valuable green spaces for local communities in partnership and hope that hundreds of Local Authorities will follow in Coventry City Council’s footsteps and join us in this initiative."
Councillor Abdul Khan, Cabinet Member for Parks at Coventry City Council, said:
"We are honoured that The Duke of Cambridge has visited our fantastic War Memorial Park to launch the Centenary Fields programme. In Coventry we are proud of our international reputation as a city of Peace and Reconciliation and we are determined that those that have lost their lives in conflict are never forgotten."
Fields in Trust
- Centenary Fields is the new programme from Fields in Trust in partnership with The Royal British Legion from 2014-2018
- Landowners across the UK can nominate outdoor recreational spaces with a relevant connection to WWI. For example the parks, playing fields, memorial gardens or village halls with grounds could contain a war memorial or have some other significance to WW1
- All sites secured through the Centenary Fields programme will receive a commemorative plaque
- Fields in Trust is a national charity founded in 1925 to improve the protection, provision and quality of outdoor recreational spaces for all communities in the UK
- HM The Queen has been Patron of Fields in Trust for 60 years; HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was President for 64 years and succeeded by HRH The Duke of Cambridge in 2013. The Duke of Cambridge has also been the Patron of The Queen Elizabeth Fields Challenge
- Blackburn with Darwen Council
- Broxtowe Borough Council
- Kensington & Chelsea Borough Council
- Hammersmith & Fulham Council
Helen Griffiths, Chief Executive, Fields in Trust
T: 07946188371 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Angela Lewis, Centenary Fields Lead
T: 07905 334 846 E: email@example.com
The Royal British Legion
The Royal British Legion is the nation's leading Armed Forces charity providing care and support to all members of the British Armed Forces past and present and their families. It is also the national Custodian of Remembrance and safeguards the Military Covenant between the nation and its Armed Forces. It is best known for the annual Poppy Appeal and its emblem, the red poppy.
Visit our WW1 Centenary section for more infomation on Centenary Fields, Centenary Poppy Campaign and other WW1 Centenary projects.
Ellie Rance, PR Officer, The Royal British Legion
T: 0333 011 4189 M: 07826910266 E: firstname.lastname@example.org