A new sculpture at the National Memorial Arboretum will allow people to remember a loved one by commissioning a bronze-sculpted leaf or figure.
The Tree of Cherished Memories will be unveiled today (29th June).
The four-metre tall sculpture will help to raise money to ensure the ongoing work of the Alrewas centre for remembrance.
One of the dedications already on the tree is a figure chosen by Mark Richmond and his daughters Alice and Kelsey to celebrate the life of his wife Liz, who served in the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service for over 32 years until she died of cancer last year, aged 52.
Her Royal Navy nursing career took the family around the UK and beyond, after completing her training in Gosport. She served in Gibraltar as an intensive care specialist as well as completing tours of Iraq, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone.
“The dates only represent Liz’s military career, not how many lives she touched with her work and the people she supported.
“She was also a wonderful wife and mother, despite all the challenges posed by a military career and successive deployments.
“We all miss her incredible warmth, charm, smile and laughter – she has left a gaping chasm which will not easily be filled.
“We chose to remember Liz at the arboretum because we feel it represents all the values she upheld in life, inside and outside the military.
“When we visited the Armed Forces Memorial together, she saw names of people whose hands she had held while on her various deployments.
“The arboretum is a peaceful resting place for those who have given their lives in service, something that represents Liz perfectly.”Mark Richmond
The Tree of Cherished Memories Remembrance sculpture is designed to be steeped in symbolism.
Sculptor Jill Berelowitz explained:
“The branches intertwine and connect, representing the support systems and loving relationships of our families and friends – the roots of the tree represent the departed, yet remind us of strength and survival.
“The abstracted figures dance in a celebration of life, and their interconnection with the tree represents the human family, with shared DNA and histories.
“The figures are joyful, dancing with the rhythm and motion of life.”Jill Berelowitz
“Remembered amongst our heroes”
On another branch of the Tree of Cherished Memories, sits a bronze leaf in memory of Dean Spruce, who died on 9th October 2021, aged 57.
Dean and Tresa, his wife of 30 years, had always been supporters of the Armed Forces, visiting the arboretum together on countless occasions, with Dean taking part in every Ride To The Wall since 2013. At his funeral, a motorbike cortege led him on his final ride.
“Knowing how much it meant to Dean, photos of the arboretum were incorporated into the Order of Service at his funeral.
“When we found out about the Tree of Cherished Memories, it seemed a very fitting, lasting tribute to commission a dedication.
“I think he would be very proud to know it was there, to be honoured and remembered amongst our heroes.”Tresa Spruce
The Tree of Cherished Memories is at the heart of a new remembrance space at the National Memorial Arboretum, set amongst a newly-landscaped wooded glade adjacent to the Royal British Legion Poppy Field.
For more details about commissioning a dedication not he memorial, visit thenma.org.uk/tree-of-cherished-memories.