For Armed Forces Week, 2020, Blackpool FC Community Trust and The Fylde Memorial Arboretum and Community Woodland group hosted a Football Remembers plaque unveiling in the Trust’s dedicated garden. This was part of the wider partnership work between the Community Trust and The Arboretum that has developed over the past 18 months that celebrates the links between Blackpool Football Club and the Armed Forces. However, because of social distancing regulations, the event was by invitation only but was also shown live via Facebook.
In the build-up to this unveiling, staff, volunteers and the Woodlands group worked hard to get the area ready for Armed Forces Week as the area dedicated to Blackpool FC had overgrown due to COVID19. However, now that restrictions have eased, this effort has resulted in the area being cleaned up, new flowers and trees planted and trees so that it now looks part of the Arboretum. The area has now been expanded with a lovely new picnic bench donated by John Jones for visitors to rest and enjoy the beautiful surroundings which will also be officially opened this weekend.
Paul Binns, a former soldier and who manages the Arboretum in a volunteer capacity, explained that “The Arboretum is for the whole of Blackpool and Fylde and we hope this partnership will help attract more people to come and visit. It is entirely managed and run by volunteers and more people visiting may mean that more people would like to get involved, which may help us establish our ambition of developing a Friends Group”
The day was a real success and was viewed by many people online. View here. Dave Maclean, Community Engagement Manager for the Community Trust, was delighted with how the day unfolded. “This project is just one element of our Armed Forces offer, which also includes weekly online meetings. The long-term plan is for this to become a dedicated veterans gardening group to provide light physical activity, friendship and tackle social isolation and loneliness, while at the same time supporting The Fylde Memorial Arboretum and Community Woodlandgroup in its future plans.”
The Arboretum has been open since 2008 and its purpose is to provide the Service Associations and the people of Blackpool and the Fylde with a place of peace and beauty in which to remember their fallen comrades and loved ones and is the only one in the UK outside the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.