A Remembrance woodland to mark 100 years of the Royal British Legion in Cornwall has been officially opened in Nansledan.
The Duchy of Cornwall has planted 100 trees next to Skol Nansledan to create a place of calm and reflection for generations to come.
The woodland was officially opened on Armistice Day, 11th November, by Colonel Edward Bolitho OBE, the Lord Lieutenant for Cornwall, accompanied by representatives from the Armed Forces past and present from across Cornwall, the Duchy of Cornwall and school children from Skol Nansledan.
Speaking during a Remembrance service to mark the official opening of the woodland, the Lord Lieutenant said: “I thought it was an outstanding idea when it was suggested that trees be planted to celebrate the centenary of the Royal British Legion in Cornwall and only a few months later we are able to stand here and see this completed project.
“I do congratulate members of the Legion for coming up with the idea and I thank His Royal Highness the Duke of Cornwall for allowing us to have this memorial here at Nansledan, and I particularly thank the members of the Duchy who have so wonderfully come up with this magnificent display.”
The trees for the Nansledan woodland were provided and planted by the Duchy of Cornwall and have been carefully sourced to suit the local conditions and provide year-round interest. De Lank Quarry in Bodmin donated a granite boulder for a commemorative plaque that forms the centrepiece of the site, which is in the shape of a poppy, the Royal British Legion’s enduring emblem of support for the Armed Forces. The woodland will also be dedicated under the Queen’s Green Canopy, a tree planting initiative to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022.
Geraint Richards, Head Forester at the Duchy of Cornwall, oversaw the Nansledan woodland. He said: “It has been a tremendous honour for the Duchy of Cornwall to mark a century of the Royal British Legion in Cornwall with this remembrance woodland. I hope people will find it a place of calm and reflection for generations to come.”
The Nansledan Woodland is one of two that have been created in Cornwall, with another 100 trees planted at Trebah Gardens in Falmouth. The two Remembrance woods symbolically mark a century of the Royal British Legion supporting the Armed Forces community and the importance of remembering their selfless contribution.
Andy Eke, Chairman of the RBL branch in Cornwall, said: “For 100 years Remembrance has been part of the fabric of society, reminding us of our shared history, and today it continues to unite people across all backgrounds, communities, and generations. Launched in our centenary year, the two new woods will create a peaceful space for individuals, schoolchildren, families and communities to remember the service and sacrifice of the British Armed Forces community and reflect on what Remembrance means to them”.
Over the last 100 years, the Royal British Legion has established itself as the UK’s largest Armed Forces Charity providing critical welfare support to veterans, current serving personnel and their families, and is firmly focused on carrying on its legacy well into the future.
Geraint Richards, Head Forester at the Duchy of Cornwall, composed a poem called ‘The Veteran’ which he read at the opening ceremony. The poem is reproduced below.
He lingers by the village cross,
Whilst others go their way,
Reflecting on the wretched loss,
Recalling war-torn days.
Just local lads, this was their place
These lanes they used to roam;
He calls to mind the boyish face
Of each one he had known.
Together they’d ventured overseas,
And pledged, as one, to stand.
Brave fallen friends! Without whom he
Came home to native lands.
And ever since, and every year,
He comes and lays to rest,
A poppy wreath, blessed by his tears,
As medals guard his breast.
And though with age the memories fade
His body’s frail and worn,
He stands as if still on parade,
With those whose loss he mourns.
He lifts his arm, salutes his queen,
His country and his friends,
And through dry lips, to God unseen,
A whispered prayer he sends.
And thus he honours once again
The boys who died as men,
Affirming as he reads their names,
‘We will remember them ‘.
He lingers by the village cross,
I watch him from afar,
Sensing the scale of personal loss,
How deeply run his scars.
For what he’s done, for where he’s been,
I feel a weight of debt,
Impressed upon me by the scene
The words: ‘Lest we forget’.