Monday 17 April 2017

Rally - The Memorial Garden

An unusual name for a special stage motor rally, the Memorial Garden Stages Rally, so I asked CofC Tom Matthews why. He showed me.

We drove up past the hangars and workshops of 45 Commando to an area beyond the living quarters where there was a high stone wall. We pulled up alongside a wooden gate set into the wall and we walked through.

It was uncanny and it was immediate. The tranquility. An absolute sense of peace and calm. Once inside this large expanse of walled garden the sound of rally cars in the distance dropped to no more than the buzzing of bees in the background.
There were no other sounds or noise. Not even from the main road nearby which passed the base.The 'Woodlands Memorial Garden' was created by Lieutenant Colonel Jim Morris DSO RM to provide a quiet and poignant focal point for remembrance and reflection. Since 45 Commando located there in 1971, 63 soldiers have lost their lives in troubled territories right across the globe.

Immediately commanding attention was the huge 8 tonne granite memorial stone on which were engraved the 63 names. The 12 foot stone was donated by Fyfee Glenrock quarry near Aberdeen but positioned around this monolith were five other massive rocks. One each from Northern Ireland, the Falklands, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, taken directly from the areas where these lives had been lost, and each one inscribed with the location.

In the centre of this circle is a large dome-like metal sculpture representing the 'Globe and Laurel' emblem so central to the Royal Marines ethos. 

There are benches too around the garden where family and friends may sit and reflect, not to mention the colleagues of those who had fallen.

Previously the commanding officer’s kitchen garden, the transformation into the Woodlands Memorial Garden took almost a year and cost around £250,000, most of which was raised by the men themselves and through donations by a supportive and appreciative local community. 

Now the garden is maintained by charitable donations. Glenrothes MSC made a donation specifically to the garden, hence the rally name. Now you know, but anyone else can make a donation too through the 'Just Giving' internet page: 

It was indeed a most moving experience, but as I walked back through the gate, the cold North Sea wind cutting across the base made my eyes water. It really was quite chilly.

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