Sutton Bridge to honour armed forces

COMMUNITY WOOD: Doreen Grimwood, parish councillor and honorary treasurer of The Friends of Sutton Bridge Open Spaces, at the new Sutton Bridge Commemorative Community Wood.  Photo (TIM WILSON):  SG031115-113TW.

COMMUNITY WOOD: Doreen Grimwood, parish councillor and honorary treasurer of The Friends of Sutton Bridge Open Spaces, at the new Sutton Bridge Commemorative Community Wood. Photo (TIM WILSON): SG031115-113TW.

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The accomplishment of a three-year project to create a permanent memorial in Sutton Bridge for members of the British Armed Forces will be celebrated later this month.

Volunteers, supporters and guests have been invited to the unveiling of the new Sutton Bridge Commemorative Community Wood on Saturday, November 28, at 1.30pm.

The wood in Arnie Broughton Walk was the brainchild of the Friends of Sutton Bridge Open Spaces, a group of volunteers who look after playing fields and other public areas in the village.

Honorary secretary Chris Brandon-King said: “We have made quite a lot of improvements to the village and, in 2012, there were some discussions about what to do in the lead-up to the centenary of the start of World War I.

“It was decided to develop a picnic area in the woods as part of War Memorial Park which was prepared many years ago by people in Sutton Bridge.

“We chose a site and then applied for a grant from the Armed Forces Community Covenant Grant Scheme which suggested that we should call it a commemorative community wood.

“After initially being turned down, we went about designing various things for the wood and someone from Lincolnshire County Council had a look at our application before resubmitting it, with some success.”

Among those who played a leading role in the project were former parish councillor and “battling great-granny” Shirley Giles, trustee of the Sutton Bridge Community Centre Fund Bet Ling, parish council chairman John Grimwood and his wife Doreen.

At the time of the project’s launch, Mrs Giles said: “We want to install three picnic benches dedicated to the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force (RAF).

“If anybody has a relative who served in any war or conflict, not just World War One or World War Two, then we need a letter from them saying that they support our aims.”

The wood finally secured almost £2,200 worth of Armed Forces Community Covenant Grant Scheme funding last December, one of 28 “community-focused projects” in Lincolnshire to have brought a total of more than £1 million of funding to the county.

Mr Brandon-King said: “We started off by clearing the wooded area, with help from a community payback team provided jointly by South Holland District Council and Lincolnshire Probation Trust.

“We then received £500 from an anonymous donor and a grant from Sutton Bridge Parish Council to make the area safe by clearing away some dead tree stumps.

“A local builder was employed to install our design of three circular planters, representing the three branches of the British Armed Forces, and a company from Lutton installed three picnic benches with the proper logos of the Army, Royal Navy and RAF on them.

“It has taken us about three years to achieve what we have achieved and, therefore, we would like to show our appreciation to the volunteers who made it happen and our British Armed Forces, both past and present.”

The Grand Opening, as it is being called, on November 28 will include an address by Rev David Oxtoby, priest-in-charge of Sutton Bridge and Tydd St Mary, followed by a reception at The Curlew Centre.

Coun Grimwood said: “Sutton Bridge Commemorative Community Wood is going to be an extra place for people to go and sit and remember what has happened in the past.

“It’s a memorial to all conflicts, not just one in particular, and it’s going to enhance our War Memorial Park.”

Mrs Giles added: “It took us a long time to raise the money and ages to get permission from the Ministry of Defence to use the logos of the British Armed Forces.

“But The Friends of Sutton Bridge Open Spaces, a little group of five people, has done it in a village that is the gateway to Lincolnshire, not the end of it.

“We should be proud and pat ourselves on the back for having done a lot of good work in the village so that people can remember we’re here.”