Making sure the sacrfices made are not forgotten ...

Volunteers have been working on improvements to the Fylde Arboretum in Moor Park Avenue including the new Burma Star Memorial.  Pictured is Ian Hindle.
Volunteers have been working on improvements to the Fylde Arboretum in Moor Park Avenue including the new Burma Star Memorial. Pictured is Ian Hindle.
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Its membership may be dwindling as the passage of time takes it toll, but the Burma Star Association in Blackpool is as determined as ever to ensure the sacrifices made are not forgotten.

Next year the branch fears it may have to fold as only a handful of resort veterans from the Far East campaign are still alive, with most now in their nineties.

Volunteers have been working on improvements to the Fylde Arboretum in Moor Park Avenue including the new Burma Star Memorial.  Pictured are Ian Hindle, Liz Clayton and Paul Binns.

Volunteers have been working on improvements to the Fylde Arboretum in Moor Park Avenue including the new Burma Star Memorial. Pictured are Ian Hindle, Liz Clayton and Paul Binns.

But their bravery and sacrifices will not be forgotten thanks to the creation of the Burma Star Memorial Garden at the Fylde Memorial Arboretum in Bispham.

The Kohima Memorial has been put in place at the community woodland on Moor Park Avenue, along with a piece of railway track representative of the Burma Railway, also known as the Death Railway due to the British Prisoners of War who died building it.

The garden also includes a memorial to those who died in the First World War.

Liz Clayton, of the Burma Star Association in Blackpool, said: “A lot of men from Blackpool fought in the Far East and a lot didn’t come back.

Volunteers have been working on improvements to the Fylde Arboretum in Moor Park Avenue including the new Burma Star Memorial.  Pictured are Ian Hindle, Liz Clayton and Paul Binns.

Volunteers have been working on improvements to the Fylde Arboretum in Moor Park Avenue including the new Burma Star Memorial. Pictured are Ian Hindle, Liz Clayton and Paul Binns.

“The allied prisoners of war were forced to work on the Burma Railway and many died due to the appalling conditions. Those who did come back are holders of the Burma Star.

“Our association is now very small in numbers and they are all in their early 90s so we are thinking in the next year we will have to close.

“For 26 years we held an annual reunion for the Burma Star at the Winter Gardens and people came from all over the world.

“We stopped holding them five years ago, but we had some money in the bank and we thought if we have to close we would use it for a permanent memorial so people could still come and pay their respects.

“It will make sure their memory is perpetuated here in Blackpool.”

The association paid £5,000 out of its funds for the inscribed stone.

The garden, which is now complete apart from the planting of shrubs and flowers, has been created entirely by volunteers along with help from the Blackpool Environmental Action Team, and some donations by the council.

This year also saw the War Memorial from the former Co-op Social Club on Preston New Road in Marton relocated to the arboretum which is the only one in the country apart from the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

Paul Binns spent 23 years in the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers (REME) serving in the first Gulf War, Kosovo and Northern Ireland.

Now he manages the Fylde Memorial Arboretum but wants more people to get involved as volunteers, and in terms of visiting the woodland.

He said: “We have to get it into people’s mindset that veterans can be from the age of 17 or 18.

“If you look at the names and ages of the lads commemorated in our Millennium Garden, they are in their 20s and 30s, from conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“We are working with Blackpool and The Fylde College and the Blackpool Build Up programme, but we would like more volunteers and are hoping to set up a ‘friends’ group.

“We welcome anyone, but particularly anyone who has served in the forces would get a lof of satisfaction out of it.”

The arboretum has three glades - the main one is filled with plaques representing different service associations, while the Millennium Glade remembers those soldiers who have died since 2000.

The Jim Houldsworth Bower honours the former Blackpool councillor who was instrumental in founding the arboretum before his death in 2012.

Future plans include a Northern Ireland memorial stone and a replica of the famous Changi Lych Gate which was built by men from the 18th Division in Changi prison, Singapore.

It was made in 1942 and marked the entrance to the camp cemetery. The original is now at the National Memorial Arboretum.

Ian Hindle, who served for 22 years in the REME, joined fellow volunteers Paul Armstrong and Paul Boynton to do much of the work building the Burma Star Memorial Garden.

He said: “It was bare soil and sand and took the three of us nine weeks to build the railway setting with some help from Blackpool Build Up.

“There is a lot of satisfaction from having done it – it is something for the people coming along behind us.”

lAnyone wanting to volunteer can contact Paul by email at paul-binns@sky.com