A memorial honouring Lancashire’s armed forces is set to be built at a national site of remembrance – marking the golden jubilee year of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment (QLR).
The plans will see the memorial installed and maintained at the National Memorial Arboretum, east of Stafford in Staffordshire, to remember those who served in the Regiment during the 20th and 21st century.
The heartwarming plans are the brainchild of The Queen’s Lancashire Regiment Veterans Charity, who have already raised the £85,000 asking price to complete and maintain the structure, two years ahead of schedule.
Charity chairman Joe Horvath, who served in the British Army for 23-and-a-half years, said: “We got together as a regiment in 2014 and made the decision to get nine plaques and two benches down at the Arboretum for guys that we had lost in Northern Ireland.
“They got sorted in October 2015 so myself and [memorial designer] Andy Burke from the committee went down.
“We were walking back from the plaques and we came across a 15 foot or so memorial. I said what about our own? We were a proud regiment, everything we did we did with professionalism and we were well liked in the county. We always looked after our own.”
Joe, 62 moved to Preston from Hungary when he was just six months old and served in Germany, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Canada.
He added: “The regiment joined with the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment in 2006, meaning that there’s a good chance all of our history could be lost. We want to keep as much of it as we can in the public eye.
“Hopefully with the memorial it will keep youngsters in touch with a little bit of our history.
“It’s something for my sons and grandsons to go to and say, ‘That’s who my grandad served with’.”
The monument is set to be installed on March 25, 2020, marking exactly 50 years since the Regiment was founded.
And while some details remain secret – even from charity members – Joe revealed that it will be a five by five metre space with a centre piece glass memorial displaying the regiment’s flag, made by north west glass manufacturers Pilkington.
Joe also confirmed that the memorial will honour the two regiments that came together to form the QLR, the Lancashire Regiment and the Loyal Regiment, with the Loyals dating back to the 1880s.
“It’s only right and proper that we name them in some format,” the former Kirkham resident explained.
The charity’s patron is Chorley MP Sir Lindsay Hoyle, who Joe described as “fantastic” in helping the charity get established quickly.
Sir Lindsay said: “I was delighted to meet with [charity secretary] Tom Rigby and other veterans of the QLR two years ago to discuss how I could help with the campaign.
“It was very early on in the campaign but we soon realised that there was huge appetite from the public to raise funds and awareness of the needs of our veterans.
“The QLR has a proud history and was at the heart our county, we have an obligation to look after our veterans.”
Charity secretary Tom Rigby said: “The aim is to get the memorial in place by 2020 which will be the 50th anniversary of the regiment. We are now well on our way to achieving that.
“And to have Sir Lindsay as our patron is a particularly good honour.”
Joe and Andy are set to visit the arboretum next Saturday to clarify the location of the memorial. The hope is to get the memorial finished by Autumn 2019 and to keep it under wraps until the grand reveal six months later on.
The Queen’s Lancashire Regiment was an infantry division of the British Army formed on March 25, 1970.
It combined the two remaining Lancashire infantry regiments, the Lancashire Regiment, formed in 1958, and the Loyal Regiment, established back in 1881.
Since its formation, battalions served on multiple operations in Northern Ireland between 1970 and 2001 as well as the Falkland Islands in the aftermath of the 1982 war.
In 2006 the Regiment merged with the King’s Regiment and the King’s Own Royal Border Regiment into the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.
Andrew Baud, spokesman for the National Memorial Arboretum, has welcomed the plans for a memorial to honour 50 years since the Queen’s Lancashire
Regiment was first founded.
“We are 150 acres, 300,000 thousand trees and well over 350 memorials remembering regiments, groups, and specific campaigns, all marking service, suffering, and sacrifice,” Mr Baud explained.
“As we become known as the UK’s focal point of remembrance there’s increasing desire for regiment associations to place memorials here.
“There is a full
established process for memorials here and we will help the association in various things they need to consider, not least the memorial design but what goes around it.
“We look forward to looking at their plans in due course.”