2021 isn’t just City of Culture year:
it’s the Memorial Park’s 100th birthday

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While Coventry gears up to be City of Culture in 2021, we, the Friends of the War Memorial Park are planning a year-long celebration of our own.

We’d like to involve as many people as possible in celebrating this birthday, with a year-long programme of events, starting in summer 2021.

As a group of individuals with a strong intent to maintain and develop the War Memorial Park for a wide variety of users the Friends of The War Memorial Park can’t let the Park’s hundredth birthday slip by without acknowledgement or celebration.

So in April 2019 we set up a Centenary Group to coordinate and schedule a programme of events, each to be organised and promoted either by the Friends or by other organisations and individuals. The Group comprises seven members headed by the Friends Vice-Chair Trevor Cornfoot plus Tim Fox, the Park Manager.

The Centenary Group has focussed on identifying possible events and activities that could form part of a programme in the year of the Park’s Centenary starting 9 July 2021.

Our latest newsletter is below, but all of our earlier newsletters are still available on the News and Articles page.

Centenary newsletter No. 4

100 days to The War Memorial Park’s 100th birthday.

Plenty of ways to celebrate it safely.

The War Memorial Park will be 100 years old on July 9th 2021.  As volunteer supporters, the Friends of The War Memorial Park had some very big plans for centenary celebrations – until Covid came along to limit what we can all do safely.

As a result, the big Three-Day Centenary Weekend will now take place in July 2022.  And we’re continuing to work with the Council and the Parks teams to find safe ways to celebrate the landmark this year.

We’ll be announcing more details over the next three months but, with 100 days to go to July 9th, here are some of the initiatives we’re working to make happen on and around the day.

The Sensory Garden: now in progress

In the Aviary area, we’re creating a new Sensory Garden that aims to enhance the enjoyment of the Park for users of all abilities.  Working with Coventry Resource Centre for the Blind, the Samaritans and Grapevine, we have developed plans for a peaceful area that will stimulate all the senses in a restful, sanctuary setting.

Howard Collerson has created a beautiful design, the Samaritans have donated funding for benches, construction work is nearly complete, and planting will follow in April.  We hope to be able to have a Covid-safe opening ceremony to celebrate the centenary this July.  We’d also like to thank all the supporters and sponsors who have contributed funds, time and effort to this project.

Trees, plinths, plaques: and the people they commemorate

The Park has 678 individual memorials to Coventrians who have died in conflict, each with its own tree.  Over time, some trees have died, and many plaques and plinths have been lost or broken.

In 2019, the Friends launched a campaign to research every memorial, and then restore or replace everything that has fallen into disrepair, in time for the Park’s 100th Birthday.  Thanks to the enthusiasm of the Parks team and support from the City Council, this project is on schedule for completion by July 9th.

On that day, we aim to tell the stories of some of the fallen, with a map and printed guide to show you where their remarkable stories can be found around the Park.

We are always keen to hear more about the people who are commemorated in the Park.  If you have stories to share, please email us at 100years@fwmpcoventry.org.uk

The Park Bench Project

Work continues to create our new social history Park Bench Project, where visitors will be able to hear the human stories behind each memorial bench.  We are currently interviewing donor families and recording their stories, and we hope to launch the initial audio tour this summer.

If you have donated a bench for a loved one and you would like to take part in this project, please contact us at 100years@fwmpcoventry.org.uk

“Disappointed – but not down-hearted”

Trevor Cornfoot, Vice Chair of the Friends of the War Memorial Park, sums up the mood as the Park’s 100th Birthday approaches:

We had some pretty ambitious plans for the Centenary, and it’s a pity we have to postpone some of them.  But, throughout lockdown, the Park has been a lifeline for thousands of Coventrians and we want to find safe ways to celebrate its birthday as restrictions slowly lift.

We’re maintaining contact with the Council and all our park users, partners and “Friends of the Friends”, all of whom have been very supportive as decisions have been made, and plans postponed.  We’re working on new ideas and long-term initiatives all the time, and as soon as we can put them into action, we will.  Our overall plan now is to turn the “Big Birthday Weekend” into a year of events, highlighting all the different activities the Park has to offer, all year round.  There will be plenty to enjoy, when we can all do it safely.”

To find out more about the Friends, the War Memorial Park and all the Centenary news and events, please:

Visit fwmpcoventry.org.uk
– Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/friendsofthewarmemorialparkcoventry/
Follow us on Twitter: @fwmpcoventry

If you have questions about joining the Friends, or suggestions or offers of help, please:

E-mail the Centenary Celebrations team at 100years@fwmpcoventry.org.uk

Drop a note and contact details into our (green) Friends post-box in the Park’s Visitor Centre (when it reopens)