Land fit for heroes

Vice president of the Fylde Ex-Services Liaison Committee, Don Aiken, at the Fylde Memorial Arboretum which has been cleaned up ahead of a dedication ceremony for Armed Forces week, which will see a plaque unveiled in memory of Fusilier Sam Flint-Broughton, who died earlier this year in Afghanistan.

Vice president of the Fylde Ex-Services Liaison Committee, Don Aiken, at the Fylde Memorial Arboretum which has been cleaned up ahead of a dedication ceremony for Armed Forces week, which will see a plaque unveiled in memory of Fusilier Sam Flint-Broughton, who died earlier this year in Afghanistan.

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An arboretum to honour the Fylde coast’s war dead has had a major makeover ahead of an important ceremony to mark Blackpool Armed Forces and Veterans Week.

The Fylde Memorial Arboretum, based at Moor Park Avenue, in Bispham, was left in a state of disrepair after council cuts meant park rangers were unable to dedicate as much time to its upkeep as they had in previous years.

However, a number of organisations have come to the fore to offer their services, including the Blackpool Environmental Action Team (BEAT), serving soldiers from the area who are on leave, and prisoners from Kirkham Prison’s community service programme.

Now the site has been tidied up ready for the Armed Forces and Veterans Week service of dedication, which will be held there on Friday.

The service will see a plaque unveiled to honour Fusilier Sam Flint-Broughton, from Poulton, who was killed in Afghanistan earlier this year.

Don Aiken, vice president of Fylde Ex-Services Liaison Committee (FESLC), which organises the service, said: “It’s work that’s been waiting to be done for a long time because the council’s parks department has been short of cash, not only in terms of funds but staff as well, so it started to deteriorate.

“BEAT got wind of this and they stepped in and helped out.

“So far they’ve done a wonderful job – they’ve planted trees, mowed the greens, and rolled the paths, which is wonderful news.”

Paul Binns, vice chairman of FESLC, has been overseeing much of the work.

He said: “We’ve had a lot of dead trees replaced with bushes, it’s really been tidied up ready for Armed Forces Week.

“It’s looking better than it was but the work’s still going on.”

The memorial, which was the first of its type to be set up after the National Arboretum in Staffordshire, currently contains around 3,000 saplings, plated in 2009, which will eventually grow into a leafy area to allow people to visit, reflect and commemorate those who gave their lives for their country.

The service of dedication will take place from 11am on Friday and all are welcome to attend.