Topping out ceremony marks major milestone

15 March 2016

Construction work on our new £15.7m Remembrance Centre officially reached the half-way mark, on Tuesday, March 15, when the highest stone to clad the roof was put in place during a topping out ceremony. 

The ceremony was performed by Lt Col David Whimpenny, Chairman of the National Memorial Arboretum Board; Sarah Montgomery, Managing Director of the Arboretum; Major General Patrick Cordingley,Chair of the Arboretum's Appeal Council, and building contractors Stepnell. 

It marked a major milestone in the creation of the centre, which has been designed by architects Glen Howells, and will educate, inform and inspire up to 500,000 visitors per year. 

Prior to the ceremony, John Cooper, Chair of the Project Board, and Mark Wakeford, Stepnell's Managing Director, presented a Yew Tree to Sarah Montgomery and the Arboretum. Yew trees are associated with the blessing of new buildings. 

The facilities are being provided thanks to major fundraising campaign launched by HRH The Duke of Cambridge, along with generous donations from both Staffordshire County Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund. 

£11m has been raised so far and organisers continue to appeal for help in raising the £4.7m required for the project. The Arboretum will remain open throughout the construction period, which is expected to be completed by autumn. 

Sarah Montgomery said: "We are extremely proud to perform the topping out ceremony, and it was wonderful to share the occasion with many of the generous donors, who have helped to to turn this multi-million-pound vision into reality. 

"We have now reached the midway point in this project and the building work is continuing apace. We look forward to seeing the rest of the development take shape in the coming months ahead of our official opening and visitors are reminded the site remains fully open in the meantime."

Jude Walker, Committee member for HLF West Midlands, said "HLF is delighted to be a funding partner for the National Memorial Arboretum's Remembrance Centre. Thanks to National Lottery players, the new Remembrance Centre will provide a welcoming and uplifting place to honour those who served in the Armed Forces and civil services of this country."

"The National Memorial Arboretum is fast becoming a symbolic place to learn, remember and commemorate, and we will continue to support it to help it achieve its aim of becoming a world class centre of Remembrance.