On Friday I went to the Arboretum which is the National Memorial site in Stafford. I’ve been quite a few times now and it’s always special.
The Arboretum was built while I was in hospital.
There are over 200 memorials there.
Most represent regiments or specific battles but there are a few surprising ones such as the Anne Frank Garden and the Stillborn Association which make you realise that bad things don’t only happen in war and how lucky we are to be able to visit.
Although it’s only been open for a few years, the gardens and trees are starting to grow and mature.
There are thousands of young trees, and nearly every one carries a dedication to someone, ex forces or police or fire service.
It sounds really sad but it’s not like that.
It’s never so busy that you can’t go and visit a memorial that you care about and think about people who have gone - that’s unless you go on Harley or Armed Forces Biker Day. Then there are tens of thousands of bikes.
They raise the vast part of the money needed to keep the Arboretum going, it couldn’t survive without them.
Well my day was particularly special.
I was meeting my old Commanding Officer, Brigadier James Learmont, to show him our two special memorials - the Airborne Forces memorial and the Royal Artillery Garden.
He is now second in command of airborne forces at Fort Bragg in America, so out ranks me by about a million miles.
To keep him in place he brought his dad, General Sir John Learmont.
It’s not the most common mix, a General, a Brigadier and. L/Bombadier, but he has helped me in every way to get to where I am today and I cannot thank him enough.
We laid flowers for friends and comrades we have lost, and it was a great day. The only problem was finding our way around.
Never give two senior officers the map and expect a good outcome!