at the National Memorial Arboretum
The Garden is a memorial to the children whose lives have been lost or affected by war and conflict. The design is a jigsaw puzzle in which the pieces do not fit. This symbolises the confusion and puzzlement of a child when their world is shattered by events around them. The plants are green and white and the central tree is dedicated to Anne Frank. The flowers are removed on June 12th which is the anniversary of Anne Frank’s birthday so the tree never bears fruit just as Anne died young.
The Garden has been under the care of members Jackie Fisher, Rae Ogden and Marilyn Craddick who sadly passed away recently.
The history is as follows:
1988 The Idea of National Memorial Arboretum was conceived by Leonard Cheshire VC. who approached David Childs. He became the Head of Fundraising
1994 PM John Major makes an appeal for funds. 40% of the funds eventually come from the National Lottery the rest from donations.
1995/96 Jackie Fisher District Chairman launches idea of Garden of the Innocents and District 6 starts to fund raise. David Childs spoke at the District Rally in September 1995. Jackie started as a volunteer at the NMA and finished before her retirement as Operations Manager.
At the Rotary Conference in Bournemouth in 1995 there was a stand promoting the idea of raising funds using leaflets for the Memorial Arboretum.
At the District Committee Meeting in March 1996 the idea of dedicating one of the beds in the garden to the innocents of Dunblane was discussed. Eventually this would form a bed of white heathers and small fir trees.
In June 1996 the sum of £5,500 had been donated by District 6 and the garden was officially called “The Garden Of The Innocents”.
November 1999 on Armistice Day (the last one before the millennium) The Anne Frank tree, an elder was planted by District Chairman, Sue Holme Barnett.
2001 National Memorial Arboretum was officially opened on 16th May. The previous year it had been declared as the most popular millennium project. We were represented at the Official Opening by Rae Ogden.
2002/3 Jean Gavin was District Chairman and Birmingham Club raised the funds for the stone birdbath. It was installed on 17th June 2003 and white doves were released from the birdbath to mark the day.
2004 Inner Wheel Club of Rugby (President Chris Vickers) proposed Jackie Fisher for a Margarette Golding Award which was granted.
21st June 2004 after a service in the chapel at the National Memorial Arboretum which included hymns such “Morning has broken” and “ All things bright and beautiful”, Jackie Fisher was presented with her Margarette Golding award and the Garden of the Innocents was officially dedicated. One white dove was released to signify peace.
2012 Garden of the Innocents moved to the new site
2014 District 6 purchase a Pocket Handkerchief tree to plant on the perimeter of the garden to mark 80th Anniversary of District 6 on 13th March. It was planted by District Chairman Liz Ostroumoff. This also happens to be the anniversary of the Dunblane Massacre in 1996.
District Chairman Sylvia has selected Rugby Womens Refuge and Macmillan Cancer Support as her charities
The National President, Betty Roberts, has chosen The Stroke Association for her charity.