The easing of lockdown came right on time for the official rededication of a restored World War One Memorial in the Midlands – exactly 100 years after it was first unveiled.
It ensured the perfect finale to a painstaking two and a half year quest by Leicestershire builder and developer Adrian Burr to renovate the desecrated and damaged monument in time for its centenary.
Burr, chairman of award-winning developers Springbourne Homes in Market Bosworth, discovered the overgrown and abandoned memorial shortly after acquiring the site for his current Hornsey Rise development in Wellsborough, Leicestershire.
He explained: “It was covered in brambles and weeds, its plaque had been stolen and it was in a very sorry state.
“Clearly it was a monument but it wasn’t until I launched a nationwide appeal for information that I finally discovered its full story and significance.”
That appeal went out in November 2018 and proved a resounding success. The archives at a London Library revealed that the Memorial had been erected in 1921 in memory of 380 members of the NATSOPA printers union who were killed in WW1 between 1914-1918.
Old photographs showed it had been the centre piece of a Remembrance Garden at the former NATSOPA Memorial Care Home which had once stood on the Wellsborough site. A book charting the history of the NATSOPA union also provided all the names of the 380 victims.
Burr immediately commissioned the renovation and relocation of the imposing granite relic into a new Peace Garden at Hornsey Rise and held an uplifting rededication ceremony on Monday March 29, fittingly on the centenary of the opening of the old Memorial Home.
He added: “We desperately wanted to celebrate the Memorial’s restoration and relocation on its centenary but the Covid restrictions had us really sweating over whether the timing would be right.
“It turned out to be perfect and I’m so happy and relieved that we managed to make it happen exactly 100 years after it was first unveiled.
“At Springbourne Homes we always strive to do the right thing which is why we’re so pleased to have been able to safeguard an important part of the history and heritage of our Hornsey Rise site.”
BBC TV filmed the rededication ceremony which included VIP guests Tony Burke, Assistant General Secretary of the Unite Union, which absorbed Natsopa, David Humberston from the At Risk War Memorials Project and Valerie Jacques of the Western Front Association.
Ann Field, from London’s Marx Memorial Library, whose research was so valuable to the restoration project, also attended alongside local historian Nigel Palmer from the Market Bosworth Society.
Unite union chief Burke said: “It is wonderful to see this memorial restored and resplendent again so we can once again commemorate the sacrifice of the NATSOPA print workers who sadly lost their lives in the first world war.”
Humberston said: “Far too often we hear of memorials being lost forever and far too rarely do we hear of companies or individuals investing both time and money to preserve the history of a Memorial and the memory of the men it commemorates.
“The role of Adrian Burr and his company Springbourne Homes in both reconstructing and researching this NATSOPA Memorial is therefore exceptional and worthy of the highest praise.”
Burr has even acted to ensure the full history of the Memorial, the NATSOPA Care Home and the Hornsey Rise site is now accessible to all via a QR code situated in the Peace Garden. For more information visit: www.springbournehomes.co.uk