Visitors to the home of Armed Forces remembrance centre will soon be able to enjoy a huge submarine sculpture so big they can walk through the middle of it.
Designs have been revealed for the Submariner Memorial, which is set to go up at the National Memorial Arboretum, in Alrewas, next year, with Prince William set to attend the unveiling ceremony.
It will be created by Paul Day, who is known for making the Battle of Britain Memorial on Embankment and the Meet Place sculpture at St Pancras in London.
Day said: “Mirroring the winning design, I imagine visitors walking through a somewhat confined space to suggest the constraints upon movement that dictate life onboard a submarine. The conning tower shape has that advantage of being instantly recognisable, a beacon that could be easily spotted and identified within the plethora of monuments at the arboretum.
“In order to honour the sacrifice of families who bear the brunt of separation and worry, I decorate one side of the conning tower with a low relief depicting spouses, children and parents waiting for their loved ones to return.
“They are present in the hearts and minds of those onboard. Their subtle presence in relief would signify this and the very real part they play in keeping submarines working at sea.”
Chris Groves, on behalf of the Groves Family, who won the public national competition to inspire the final design, said: “Three generations of our family have been submariners – my father Adrian, me, my son Nick and his girlfriend. Emma and family friend Si Ellis. We are really passionate about the Submarine Service and we wanted to create a design that would fittingly be a memorial for all the submarine family. We will be hugely proud of the eventual memorial.”
The memorial will be 4 metres long and 3.5m high, cast in bronze, carrying a poignant Sir Winston Churchill quote: “Of all the branches of men in the forces there is none which shows more devotion and faces grimmer perils than the submariner.”
Actor Colin Firth is backing the Submariner Memorial Appeal, which is raising money to fund and maintain the memorial. It has raised £375,000 to date.
Firth starred in Kursk: The Last Mission, which is about a lost Russian submarine, and is due to play naval intelligence officer Ewen Montagu in upcoming film Operation Mincemeat.
He said: “Filming Kursk: The Last Mission gave me a vivid insight into the lives of our submariners.
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“The service and their loved ones have made huge sacrifices over the past century – and continue to do so today as they carry out their secret work far from public gaze. As so many of our lost submariners have no graves, a fitting memorial at the National Arboretum will give those left behind a place to gather and grieve.
“I can’t wait to see this appeal reach its goal.”
Details about the funding appeal are available at www.submarinermemorial.uk