President’s Blog: 3rd October 2022
Saturday was a beautiful day and we spent the day with our son, Mark , and granddaughters, Emily and Iris. We usually go for a walk, but we decided to visit the National Memorial Arboretum instead. Expecting a quiet, meditative afternoon, we set off, only to find that we had to park in a field, with hundreds of others, and to take the Park and Ride to the Arboretum as there was a motorbike event on. When we arrived, we were amazed to see thousands of motorbikes gleaming in the sun. We were informed that we had just missed the ‘Spitfire’ fly past. We had, inadvertently, arrived at the ‘Ride to the Wall’ event. There were thousands of motorcyclists, both young and old, from all around the UK, who had come together to remember the names engraved on the walls of the Armed Forces Memorial.
There was a sea of black leathers, decorated with all kinds of badges. There were groups of bikers – Blood Couriers, Police bikers, groups of ex Army, RAF, and Navy personnel, to name but a few. We were just in time to see the Band of the Irish Guards march to the Memorial for the closing ceremony and to hear ‘Nymrod’ echoing around us. It was incredibly moving and even more because it was so unexpected. The names of the fallen are inscribed on the walls of the memorial but there are blank spaces for names to be added in the future; a sombre thought in the current situation. There are nearly 400 memorials in the landscaped woodland, representing a wide variety of associations, charities, emergency services and individuals – far too many to see on a busy afternoon, especially whilst dodging the motorbikes!
The Arboretum lies within the National Forest in Staffordshire and there are plans to extend the site. The loss of so many loved ones during the covid pandemic, far more than were lost in the WWII, has created a need for another living memorial to be created so that everyone who has lost their life as a result of the pandemic can be remembered.
We left in a convoy of motorbikes! It was certainly a memorable afternoon. We will return on a quieter day and meanwhile I will pray for peace in all the war-torn countries of the world. Please join me.