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. 5
The War Memorial Park’s 100th Birthday.
Just 44 days to go!
The War Memorial Park will be 100 years old on July 9th 2021. While Covid restrictions have limited the scale of the party, the Friends of the War Memorial Park still plan to celebrate.
The birthday is now the launch date for a year of Centenary events celebrating the Park and all the people who use it, culminating in a big Three-Day Centenary Weekend in July 2022.
But here are some of our plans for Covid-safe celebrations this July:
The Sensory Garden: planting now in progress
In the Aviary area, we’re creating a new Community Sensory Garden to enhance the enjoyment of the Park for users of all abilities. Working with Coventry Resource Centre for the Blind, the Samaritans, Grapevine and some very enthusiastic volunteers, construction is now well underway.
Sue Konrad, Secretary of the Friends, has been involved since the initial research that paved the way to it:
“The Sensory Garden is like nothing else in the Park. We designed it to encourage participation and conversation: the Samaritans are providing two benches in a ‘V’ shape to encourage people to talk to each other, and Grapevine’s volunteer groups haven’t just joined in the planting – they’re even bringing their own plants. We don’t want it to be a “look-but-don’t-touch” garden; we’re aiming for a usable “cared-for-by-the-community” garden!”
The Sensory Garden is on schedule for a Covid-safe opening ceremony around the Park’s birthday in July.
Memorial Park Rededication Event: July 9th
We are delighted that the City Council are planning and organising an official Rededication of The War Memorial Park, scheduled for the birthday itself. This is an idea we have championed from the outset, and we are very pleased to see it coming together on such a scale.
There will be more detailed announcements to come, but this will be an extremely fitting tribute to the Park, its original purpose, and all the Coventrians it commemorates.
Trees, plinths, plaques: and the Memorial Trail
In 2019, the Friends launched a campaign to research and restore every individual memorial in the Park, in time for the Park’s 100th Birthday. Thanks to the enthusiasm of the Parks team and support from the City Council, this project was completed in mid-May.
Over the weekend, we aim to tell the stories of some of the Fallen, with a map and printed guide to show you where their remarkable stories will be displayed around the Park.
We are always keen to hear more about people commemorated in the Park. If you have stories to share, please email us at email@example.com
The Park Bench Project
Work is accelerating on our new social history Park Bench Project, where visitors will be able to hear the human stories behind each memorial bench. We have interviewed several donor families and recorded their stories, and we hope to launch the initial audio tour this summer.
We have gathered a variety of charming, moving memories already, and we also plan to turn these into a booklet later in the year. But we’re always keen to hear more.
If you have donated a bench for a loved one and you would like to take part in this project, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep watching this space
We are currently working with a variety of partners on other Centenary projects, large and small, as restrictions lift and more Park user groups can join the year-long celebrations. To keep up with all the latest news, please visit us at fwmpcoventry.org.uk.
We are always keen to welcome new members, new “Friends of the Friends” and new volunteers for our various initiatives (including our popular monthly litter-pick).
To find out more about the Friends, the War Memorial Park and all the Centenary news and events, please:
– Visit: www.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 email@example.com
– Drop a note and contact details into our (green) Friends post-box in the Park’s Visitor Centre