A new 25-acre living memorial

Shot at Dawn

Visitors are advised that the Shot at Dawn Memorial will close to the public on Monday 6 May. The memorial will undergo restoration and will be closed for approximately six weeks whilst these works take place. Free Shot at Dawn Talks will continue to take place daily at 12.30pm and 1.30pm in the Millennium Chapel, please ask at the Welcome Desk for more information. Visit our Shot at Dawn Restoration Appeal to find out more and donate.

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In response to huge public demand, the National Memorial Arboretum and National Forest Company present their ambitious plans to create a new living memorial that recognises service and sacrifice, and remembers every person who died as a result of the pandemic.


It will be a place for people to remember their loved ones, recognise the bravery and dedication shown by key workers and members of the NHS, and reflect on the impact that it has had on all of our lives.

The development of a further 25-acres of land to the north end of the existing Arboretum is part of a new ambitious vision for modern remembrance which has sustainability, accessibility, and inclusion at its core. Neighbouring quarry operator Tarmac has donated the 25-acre plot on which the new living memorial will be created.

Westminster Abbey

Trees of Life Service of Remembrance and Blessing

On 11 October 2022, the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle, Dean of Westminster Abbey led a special service to honour the bravery and dedication of those who served our country throughout the pandemic, and to remember all who died as a result of COVID-19 in the UK. The Abbey was dressed with trees and saplings which were blessed during the ceremony, which also included worship, carefully chosen readings, choral music and prayers.

Trees of Life Glade

Following the service at Westminster Abbey, the blessed trees were planted in a new glade at the Arboretum, marking the first step towards the delivery of a vision for the 25-acre extension to the Arboretum. A stately Spaeth Alder tree sits at the heart of the glade, surrounded by a beautiful seating area, inviting visitors to pause, take a moment and reflect.

The blessed saplings are a mixture of broadleaf species including the Midlands Hawthorn, which with its pink blossom each spring is an attractive variation on the well-known native tree. Trees will long outlive us all; their presence offers solace in our sadness and connects us to future generations.

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Trees of Life Dedication

A New Living Memorial


The existing scrubland and silt pond will be transformed into an inspirational living landscape, representative of the changing seasons, where people can gather to reflect and contemplate the impact of the pandemic and remember loved ones who died as a result.

Pond 1 Colour
A new living memorial: design sketch

The landscape design will feature diverse wildlife habitats and will incorporate reflective glades, areas for gathering and play, an inclusive space for contemplation and worship, and an expansive lake.

An avenue of water will run through the centre of the woodland, evoking a range of emotional responses as visitors are taken on a unique and highly personal journey through a series of water features, layered in meaning.

Play Colour

The extension would also include new visitor facilities: accessible toilets, a small refreshment outlet and a flexible undercover event space that could see the existing 300,000 visitor footfall increase to over 500,000, reaching younger and more diverse audiences to further cement the Arboretum's position as the nation's year-round place to remember, and a key destination within the National Forest.

Next steps

On 6 December 2023, Lichfield District Council’s Planning Committee voted in support of our masterplan to transform 25 acres of former quarry land on the northern boundary of the National Memorial Arboretum; planning permission will be granted subject to a review by the Secretary of State under Section 77 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. The National Memorial Arboretum, in collaboration with the National Forest Company, would welcome large-scale funding partners to enable the delivery of this new multi-million-pound dedicated Remembrance space.

“As the Nation’s year-round place to remember we were inundated with requests to create a new space for people to commemorate the incredible service and sacrifice made by key workers during the darkest of times and remember all those who lost their lives as a result of the pandemic,” said Philippa Rawlinson, Director of the National Memorial Arboretum. “This ambitious new Remembrance space would be a fitting tribute to their service and sacrifice, complementing the ‘Trees of Life’ glade dedicated earlier this year and we are open to dialogue with large-scale funding partners, including the UK government, to enable the delivery of our full vision.” 

The pandemic touched each and every one of us, from those who stayed at home in circumstances they never dreamed of, to those who so freely and so bravely gave their service and their lives to our Nation.

If you or your representative organisation are interested in joining us as a large-scale funding partner, please email Graeme Williamson at: memorialwoodland@thenma.org.uk.

Once the majority of core funds have been secured, a public appeal will be launched to support the latter phases of the project.



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COVID memorial LP2254 Covid Memorial Vision Sketch High Res 11.05.21