Barbara Mark, a Friend from Ludlow, shares the following:
Pity of War: a new sculpture at the National Memorial Arboretum
As a young girl, living on the outskirts of war-time London, Joyce Gee experienced at first hand the horror of the Blitz and, even as a twelve-year-old, was haunted by the thought of all the millions of civilians caught up, through no choice of their own, in the suffering of war.
In 2013, Joyce, a Quaker, a member of Clun Valley Local Meeting, visited the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. With its 300 or more overwhelmingly military memorials, it stirred vivid memories but there was a jarring absence: Joyce was outraged by the lack of any memorial to the civilian non-combatants who died in ‘her’ war and who continue to die – – “collateral damage” – – in all the other wars of our modern age.
Joyce had an idea which she took back to her Quaker Meeting: to set up a memorial at the NMA to all those civilians who had suffered – – and continue to suffer – – as a result of war. The concern was sent to Southern Marches Area Meeting and from there to Meeting for Sufferings. With Meeting for Sufferings’ support, a small working group of Quakers was formed to take the idea for such a memorial to the National Memorial Arboretum where it gained official approval and was allocated a site.
By a fortuitous coincidence, the NMA had also been approached by the sculptor, Peter Walker, Artist in Residence at nearby Lichfield Cathedral. Peter had also been struck by the lack of any memorial to non-combatants and had been inspired to redress this lack by creating a sculpture which would remind visitors of the untold millions of ‘silent victims’ whose names will never be inscribed on any memorial.
Quaker discussions with Peter, his wife and partner Katy, and their team culminated in an agreement to work together. The form of the new project, The Pity of War, is not only a large bronze memorial sculpture to stand in the Memorial Arboretum but an associated website and educational resource pack which will take the issues of war, peace and civilian suffering out into schools and the wider community. This educational element will be an important and long-lasting part of the project and will be very much in line with our Peace Testimony.
The Pity of War group and its partners are now engaged in raising the £60.000 needed to take the project forward and wondered whether friends in your Meeting might be interested in adding their name or that of a family member or friend to the plaque which will surround the plinth on which the sculpture will stand. Meetings who wish to make a donation for any amount (so far these have been in the range of £200 – £1000 but smaller donations are also be most welcome) will be listed on the website. Once the cost of the sculpture has been met, any additional funds will be used to further the educational programme.
Please download the attached flyer to see the details of the scheme and the link to our website. Please send donations in the form of a cheque made payable to Pity of War to Dr Kit Byatt, 11, Chestnut Lane, Burghill, Hereford, HR4 7QN.