Ripon residents are doing everything they possibly can to mark the First World War centenary, and only this week, work started on creating a new memorial garden for the city.
It’s a project that means so much to so many, and Ripon’s branch of the Royal British Legion said they are proud to have taken a lead on bringing the garden to fruition. Together, members have galvanised the city to support the plans with their incredible fundraising efforts.
Generously supported by groups including Ripon Community Poppy Project, who are spearheading plans for Ripon’s centenary events, the new memorial garden will face the north side of Ripon Cathedral and replace the existing garden.
The Chairman of the Royal British Legion Ripon branch, Jeet Bahadur Sahi, said: “The one we have at present is not noticeable, and most people do not even know the whereabouts of the Remembrance garden.
“This is not what a garden of Remembrance should be - it needs to be visible 52 weeks of the year and a place that people can visit whenever they feel the need and to feel peace and give thanks.
“It is important for this city to have a memorial garden that can be visited every day. The Remembrance garden will allow all to show respect at any time of the year. We say Lest we Forget, but without a physical presence there is no doubt that people will forget.”
Mr Sahi said he hopes the new garden will become a special place for remembrance all year round. He said: “It is extremely important that we remember the sacrifices that were made to enable us to have freedom we have today. It is also imperative that those injured in recent conflicts have a place that they can associate with, and know that the sacrifice they made was not in vain.
“Families of those killed in action also have the reassurance that their loved ones are remembered. And those who were injured need to know that the events that changed their lives will be remembered - not only in their lifetime, but forever.”
Designs for the garden include a memorial stone dedicated to all who served, and visitors will be able to place crosses in memory of their loved ones. There will be benches to sit and quietly reflect, and special poppy posts will be placed to represent the Flanders poppy.
Work on the garden has already attracted a lot of attention from residents who have followed the progress of the important project.
Chairman Jeet Bahadur Sahi said: “Those who returned, uninjured, from the Great Wars and all conflicts since, had to live with the horrors they witnessed to try and put all the horrors behind them and live a normal life.
“A Remembrance garden gives them a place to go to remember their colleagues, lost and injured, without standing out. This Remembrance garden will be visited by people who have never experienced the horrors of war - there will be no distinction. No one will know if visitors are there as serving personnel, families of serving personnel, veterans, or descendants of those lost in the Wars and conflicts.
“The Remembrance garden is a special place that everyone will feel comfortable with and experience a serene peace. We need a constant, visible presence like this, so that every time we pass by, we do thank all those millions who sacrificed their today for our tomorrow and have enabled us to live our lives as we do today.”
The idea of a new memorial garden has really struck a chord with residents all across the city.
Mr Sahi said: “The garden of Remembrance will have a major impact on all of us and people visiting the garden from elsewhere. Once the garden is finished and opened to the public, it will be a showcase of total respect from all living in this wonderful city, to the men and women who gave their lives in all wars and conflicts around the world to give us ours today.
“Anyone wishing to donate for the project Remembrance Garden is very welcome and will be very much appreciated.”
Mr Sahi thanked everybody who has given huge help in making the garden a reality, including: Historic England, North Yorkshire County Council, Harrogate Borough Council, Ripon Community Poppy Project, ECON, Ripon Farm Services, Jewsons, Duffields, HA Green & Sons, Wood Richardson, Ripon Club of Rotary Rowels, 21 Royal Engineer Regiment, and residents who made a donation.