Pupils to commemorate Somme centenary with poetry competition

The National Memorial Arboretum

The National Memorial Arboretum is the UK’s year-round Centre for Remembrance; a spiritually uplifting place which honours the fallen, recognises service and sacrifice, and fosters pride in our country. The Arboretum is part of The Royal British Legion.


The fundraising campaign is for £15.7m, with just over £10m raised. We have been successful in attracting grants and donations from an array of organisations and individuals, including the Heritage Lottery Fund and Staffordshire County Council.


Sited in the heart of the Nation, with 30,000 maturing trees and over 300 memorials, it is a beautiful and lasting tribute to those who serve their country or who have died in conflict.


Visitors from all walks of life number around 300,000 per year, including Service personnel, veterans, students of all ages, groups and individuals.  Over 200 special events are held annually.  The Act of Remembrance, including a Silence, is observed daily in the Millennium Chapel.


The Arboretum, situated on land gifted by Tarmac, is home to the striking Armed Forces Memorial which commemorates those who have been killed on duty or as a result of terrorism from the end of the Second World War to the present time.

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Staffordshire’s National Memorial Arboretum is encouraging pupils from across the UK to take part in its Battle of the Somme poetry competition, with entries being accepted until Friday 17th June. Part of the Royal British Legion, the Arboretum is the UK’s year-round Centre for Remembrance. KS2, KS3 and KS4 pupils are being asked to submit a poem on the theme of the hornbeam tree, which was the only one left standing in Delville Wood, Longueval, and became a poignant symbol of hope during the Battle of the Somme.

Pupils are asked to submit a poem on the theme of the surviving tree in return for the chance to receive a commemorative hornbeam sapling and plaque for their school. Entries will be judged by a panel including Tom Wyre, Staffordshire’s Poet Laureate 2013-14; Spoz Esposito, Birmingham Poet Laureate 2006/07, and Amerah Saleh, a young spoken word artist, plus Arboretum staff and volunteers.

“Tens of thousands of people made the ultimate sacrifice during the Battle of the Somme – the bloodiest battle in British history,” said Sarah Montgomery, managing director of the Arboretum. “As the centenary of this conflict approaches, we believe it is very important to help children understand what happened and commemorate it.

“We aim to educate and inspire children through a variety of creative and interactive events and activities, beginning with our poetry competition. We hope that many schools will take the opportunity to get involved by taking part in the competition, or by joining in one of our events.”

A total of 100 trees will be presented to schools to mark the centenary. Each of the schools will also receive a Royal British Legion Remember the Battle of the Somme 1916-2016 toolkit, so they can hold their own remembrance service. The toolkit forms part of the Legion’s package of Somme 100 activities, which also includes a free app, developed in partnership with Dan Snow, that is available to download at iTunes and Google Play.

Competition entries should be sent to [email protected] by Friday 17th June and entitled Somme 100: Hornbeams for 100 schools, followed by the school’s key stage category.

Successful entrants will be announced on Friday 1st July, and saplings may be collected from the Arboretum between July 2 and November 18th 2016.

Visit www.thenma.org.uk/somme100 or contact [email protected] for more information.

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