The people of Warrington are being invited to play their part in creating a ‘Heroes Pathway’ at Marshall Gardens in the town centre, as part of its planned refurbishment.
Plans were revealed last year to revitalise the green space – which is situated along the River Mersey on the opposite side of the road to the cenotaph on Bridge Foot – and transform it into a memorial garden.
The project is now moving forward through a partnership with The National Veteran’s Walk, an organisation which aims to create permanent tributes to all who have served or are still serving in our Regular and Reserve Armed Forces.
Warrington people who would like to pay tribute to a loved one who has served, or is still serving, in the armed forces are being invited to purchase their own granite stone as a permanent tribute at Marshall Gardens.
The National Veterans Walk have also expanded the project to allow people, for the first time, to purchase a stone paying tribute to public services workers – including Emergency services, NHS and medical staff who have worked bravely in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Heroes Pathway project was launched in 2016, with the first stones laid in Mowbray Park in Sunderland to honour all personnel who have served their country in any way. The Sunderland project has been a huge success, with close to 1000 stones now laid in the pathway as of March 2021.
Rob Deveron, Ops Director at National Walks Ltd, said: “We have been engaged in discussions with Warrington Borough Council for over 12 months to help bring this pathway idea to reality. We know from experience how much existing projects in other UK locations mean to individuals and their families.
“We will all have some form of memorial when we pass away, but everyone should be able to be proud of individual achievements whilst they can still be part of that celebration! This walkway will give anyone who is serving or has served in Military, Emergency and Health services a chance to create that permanent legacy for themselves and their loved ones.”
The granite plaques are 350mm x 250mm in size and will carry the individual name, rank and badge of the serving force, start/end dates and similar details for emergency and other public service personnel. They will make a lasting memory for family or friends and could be an ideal gift at special events such as birthdays, Christmas or other significant anniversaries.
Lisa Billings, the mother of Private Daniel Wade, from Latchford, who was killed fighting in Afghanistan in 2012, said: “I lost my son in March 2012 as part of the Warrior Six tragedy in Afghanistan. I have always wanted to create a suitable memorial or tribute in our town and when I heard about The Veterans Walk in Sunderland I got in touch with Rob and a young man named Jake generated funding for a stone for my own son that is laid on that pathway
“This gave me the idea of bringing a similar project to Warrington. I believe everyone has a hero and with the potential renewal of the Marshall Gardens site, the idea to create similar tributes to ALL who are serving or have served made sense. We plan to replace existing pathways over time with these granite plaques that will be a permanent reminder for so many individuals and families.”
For more information about the Heroes Pathway project and to purchase a stone, please visit nationalveteranswalk.co.uk. For further background information, visit the ‘Marshall Gardens Heroes Walk’ or ‘Friends of Marshall Gardens’ pages on Facebook.