The fundraising campaign, launched by HRH The Duke of Cambridge, has passed £10m, meaning that work on the new facilities, which will cater for up to 500,000 visitors per year, will start in the summer. The milestone has been reached through the generosity of many individuals and organisations in the past few years, including lead funders Staffordshire County Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The latest major donation, which has helped the Arboretum to pass the £10m mark, was a £650,000 award from Waste Recycling Environmental Ltd (WREN), a not for profit Environmental Body that distributes landfill tax credits on behalf of FCC Environment, one of the UK`s leading waste and resource management companies.
The building work, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2016, will include a new Remembrance Centre with dedicated education facilities that will enable the Arboretum to expand its engagement from 10,000 schoolchildren a year to 25,000.
Improvements will also be made to the reception area, restaurant, café and shop. The Arboretum will be open as usual throughout the construction work and fundraising will continue in earnest to raise the remaining £5.3m needed to complete the project.
Sarah Montgomery, Managing Director of the Arboretum, said: “We are thrilled to have reached this critical milestone in our bid to fund much-needed new facilities. I’m extremely grateful to our Appeal Council, chaired by Major General Patrick Cordingley, and the Arboretum team, for all their hard work to secure funds raised so far and to all our supporters. “Our heartfelt thanks also goes to WREN - the latest generous contributor to our campaign. Their donation has taken us over £10m, and we are now confident that work can begin on site this year while we work hard to secure the remaining funds.”
Major General Patrick Cordingley, Chair of the Appeal Council, said: “We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of individuals and organisations alike in supporting our fundraising campaign. “Raising £10m to date is a major achievement, since it will enable us to get the building work underway within months, and we extend our sincere thanks to everyone who has made this possible.”
Peter Cox, Managing Director of WREN, commented: “The WREN Board recognised the growing importance of the Arboretum as the nation’s centre for Remembrance, and its urgent need for new and larger facilities to cope with the ever rising number of visitors. In response, the Board unanimously agreed to make two awards totaling £650,000 to support this important charity.”
Philip Atkins, Leader of Staffordshire County Council said: "We are incredibly proud of the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire and it is fantastic news that work on the new facilities will be starting soon. The Arboretum is growing to be a symbolic place to learn, remember and commemorate and we are proud to help it achieve its aim of becoming a world class centre of remembrance.
"With the National Memorial Arboretum, Commonwealth Graves and German Cemetery on Cannock Chase, Staffordshire is helping focus the nation's remembrance and commemorations of past sacrifice."
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