National Memorial Arboretum
Our venue of the month for November is the wonderful National Memorial Arboretum, we asked them a variety of questions to help understand about their facilities, what they do and to learn about their brand new conference developments. Read below to find out what they had to say:
1. Brief description of the National Memorial Arboretum
The National Memorial Arboretum is the UK’s year-round centre of Remembrance and home to the iconic Armed Forces Memorial which was dedicated in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen.
The expansive 150-acre site is centrally located on the edge of the National Forest in Staffordshire and is easily accessible from the A38, A50, M1, M42 and M6 (Toll).
The Arboretum features over 350 thought-provoking memorials, nestled amongst lush and maturing woodland. Military and civilian associations are represented alongside tributes for individuals. Rich in design and symbolism, and sympathetic to the landscape they inhabit, the memorials and their stories are waiting to be discovered.
Aspects at the National Memorial Arboretum is a new, contemporary facility providing seven flexible spaces for between 12 and 500 guests. This dedicated events building boasts a spectacular main suite with inspirational views across the Arboretum and Armed Forces Memorial, providing a remarkable location for conferencing and events.
2. What would you say has been the most challenging but exciting aspect of working within your industry this year?
We began building Aspects earlier this year, a new dedicated events facility which replaces a marquee we’ve been operating in for ten years. This space is crucial to providing organisations related to the memorials with a befitting backdrop for functions that accompany Remembrance services.
Aspects is also key in developing new income streams and hopefully audiences; by opening up its availability to corporate customers for conferences, banquets and away days. Our aspiration is that we self-generate more income to keep the Arboretum free to enter and beautifully maintained and inspire delegates to return with their families and enjoy a day out at the Arboretum.
It has been an incredible journey, not without its trials or tribulations but to see the doors on to welcome both our existing Remembrance clients and new corporate ones and receive such brilliant feedback has made it completely worth while.
3. Three top facts about the National Memorial Arboretum…
1. The Arboretum is not a sombre site. Our founder; Commander David Childs CBE conceived of the Arboretum as a spiritually uplifting place that celebrates lives lived and commemorates lives lost in service.
2. The Arboretum’s focus is not totally military. Approximately 30% of the memorials are devoted to civilians, from the Police and Fire & Rescue to national charities.
3. Every British native tree is represented within the Arboretum.
4. How big is the Arboretum?
There are 150 acres within the Arboretum to explore, punctuated with over 350 memorials dedicated to those who have served and sacrificed. Each memorial has a story to tell and many represent remarkable acts of leadership, tenacity and teamwork. The extraordinary landscape offers the opportunity to shed the constraints of the corporate world; to shift perspective, make space to think differently, spark creativity and foster feelings of inspiration, awe and gratitude.
5. National Memorial Arboretum is known to have been awarded and noticed for many awards. If you could choose an award, what would be your next and why?
In 2018 we received VisitEngland’s Large Visitor Attraction of the Year award; an accolade which cements our national status, recognises our recent development and excellent customer service standards.
We’d like to go on and win the VisitEngland Business Tourism Award to demonstrate our commitment to excellence in business practice, professionalism and customer service within the commercial arena.
6. Can you describe a day in the life at National Memorial Arboretum?
On arrival, visitors are greeted within the Remembrance Centre, an award-winning imposing building designed to impress. From here, they can explore our three exhibition galleries, enjoy our extensive restaurant or exit onto Heroes’ Square, our beautiful cloistered courtyard with stunning landscaping.
At the heart of the Remembrance Centre is Landscapes of Life, an interactive exhibition which introduces visitors to the history of the Arboretum, its significance and the wider importance of Remembrance.
In the distance, the iconic Armed Forces Memorial can be seen, an awe-inducing architectural structure faced with 1,000 tonnes of Portland stone. The Memorial is a stark but beautiful reminder, that since the end of World War II, over 16,000 service men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.
Across our 150 acres there are hundreds more memorials to explore and visitors can accompany one of our expert guides on a guided walk or take up a seat on our land train with pre-recorded commentary, to experience further the stories and symbolism within the Arboretum.
While exploring the site, visitors may see services of Remembrance taking place at memorials where guests come from far and wide to meet, reflect and reunite. Many of these have accompanying functions in our new events building, Aspects which is also available to hire for corporate conferencing and events.
Before leaving, visitors can enjoy homemade cakes and locally-roasted coffee in our restaurant and coffee shop and peruse an interesting selection of gifts within the Arboretum shop.
7. What events are held here?
Over 250 events are held at the Arboretum each and every year. Taking place across the site, these events vary in size from an intimate service of Remembrance to large-scale set piece commemorations of 2000 people.
Aspects our new events building, was designed to offer a befitting setting for those events whilst also providing facilities for corporate hire. With seven flexible event spaces for between 12 and 500 guests, incorporating a stunning main suite with panoramic views, it offers an unrivalled setting for conferencing, training and events.
In addition, our public events programme offers visitors extraordinary experiences throughout the year. New for December 2018, our Illuminated Arboretum, a stunning and awe-inspiring immersive experience will show the Arboretum and some of its memorials ‘in another light’.
8. What is your favourite team building event?
People often comment that every time they visit the Arboretum they see something different and at 150 acres it’s hard to explore everything in one day.
We love Off Limit’s Tablet Treasure Hunt as a way of encouraging teams to explore and collaborate within the site, unlocking the fascinating stories of tenacity, leadership and teamwork behind the Memorials on the way while experiencing the tranquillity of the living Arboretum.
9. What do you see in the future for National Memorial Arboretum?
Every year the Arboretum goes from strength to strength, dedicating new memorials, developing more exciting public events and encouraging hundreds of thousands of people to visit this nationally significant site.
As Aspects, our events space, develops as a destination for conference and event clients, we hope that it will both provide a vital income stream for the Arboretum charity and a boost to the local economy but also encourage delegates to return with their families, to hand on the torch of Remembrance to future generations.
Potential Customer Questions:
1. Is there parking on site? We can accommodate up to 900 cars across two sites.
2. How many people do the meeting rooms hold? Aspects has five flexible meeting and events spaces divisible into seven rooms for 12 – 500 guests.
3. Is there Wi-Fi? Yes, Wi-Fi is complimentary in Aspects, the Remembrance Centre and the coffee shop.
4. Do you offer catering for conferences?
Our accomplished chefs can cater to the highest standards, offering beautifully cooked, great British food, using locally sourced ingredients. Menus are flexible and can be tailored to your needs both with your delegates and your budget in mind.
5. What are the opening/closing times? The Arboretum is open 9am – 5pm every day except for Christmas Day. Aspects is available to hire outside of these hours and is licenced until 1am with extensions available on request.
6. How much does entry cost? Entry to the Arboretum is free, charges may apply to other activities.