New ‘Queen’s Green Canopy’ sculpture unveiled at National Memorial Arboretum

Visitors approaching the National Memorial Arboretum, within the National Forest in Staffordshire, will be able to see a new sculptural addition to the Arboretum’s Queen’s Green Canopy as they pass along the avenue of Elm, Oak and Lime trees leading to the Nation’s year-round place to Remember.

The trees were planted last Autumn as part of a national tree planting initiative in tribute to Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

The sculpture encapsulates all the elements within the Arboretum’s contribution to The Queen’s Green Canopy, a nationwide initiative created to honour Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth. The initiative, which concluded in March, planted over three million trees across the UK. It features 40 stainless steel elm, oak and lime leaves to represent the trees along the avenue, alongside a carving of The Queen’s Green Canopy logo.

The new sculpture by Graeme Mitcheson is hand-carved from a single 9-tonne piece of granite excavated from Mountsorrel quarry in Leicestershire. The stone was donated by Tarmac, long-term advocates of the Arboretum and operator of the quarry adjacent to the site. Graeme Mitcheson has designed several of the Arboretum’s more than 400 memorials, including tributes to the Bevan Boys, Naval Services and members of the Scouting movement.

“As our Patron, Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was gracious and unwavering in her support for the Arboretum over many years,” explains Philippa Rawlinson, Director of the National Memorial Arboretum. “It is wonderful that we are able to complete our contribution to The Queen’s Green Canopy at the Arboretum on what would have been Queen Elizabeth II’s 97th birthday, as a celebration of her lifelong commitment to service.”

Last November, on Armistice Day, Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester completed the planting of 26 new trees along the entranceway to the Arboretum. The Queen’s Green Canopy at the Arboretum is sited on 7.5 acres of land along Barley Green Lane, from the A513 roundabout to Croxall Corner, donated by the Leavesley family who are long-standing supporters of the Arboretum.

“As well as paying tribute to Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the new avenue is the first step towards creating an impressive new approach to the Arboretum, improving future visitor accessibility with new pedestrian and cycle route connections that will complement schemes being developed by Staffordshire County Council,” explains Andy Ansell, Head of Estates at the Arboretum. “In addition, the new trees are flanked by hedging that has been laid Midlands style and interplanted with new whips and wildflower areas to enhance biodiversity and create improved habitats for wildlife.”

Also in November 2022, the Vice-Lord-Lieutenant of Staffordshire James Leavesley, DL presented the Arboretum with a special tree from The Queen’s Green Canopy ‘Tree of Trees’ sculpture which stood outside Buckingham Palace as a message of hope, regeneration and optimism to the Nation and the world as part of the Platinum Jubilee weekend celebrations. The hornbeam tree was then planted as part of the Arboretum’s own Queen’s Green Canopy.

The Arboretum was one of over 300 organisations from across the UK who were selected to receive one of these special trees as a thank you for ‘all the valuable and tireless work that volunteers and individuals undertake for the benefit of their communities’. The dedicated work of the Arboretum’s volunteers was also recognised by Her Majesty in 2010 when they were awarded the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, equivalent to an MBE for groups.

Entry to the National Memorial Arboretum is free of charge, allowing visitors to explore the 150-acre site and several exhibitions. Booking in advance via the Arboretum website is recommended to guarantee entry and save on parking (£4 in advance, £6 on the day).

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