Coventry & Warwickshire

Prince William launches WW1 parks scheme in Coventry

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Media captionPrince William laid a wreath at Coventry's War Memorial Park

Coventry's War Memorial Park has become the first of 500 parks to be awarded special status to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One.

The park has been dedicated as a Centenary Field in a ceremony performed by Prince William.

The scheme, run by Fields in Trust and the Royal British Legion, is designed to protect land for future generations.

It encourages landowners to donate land for public use.

The Duke of Cambridge laid a wreath in the War Memorial Park and unveiled a plaque.

'We want to forget'

Afterwards he stressed the importance of green spaces and said: "Each moment of play or use that takes place on a memorial field is, in a way, an act of remembrance."

He also watched local children taking part in sports events in the park and poppies being planted.

Fields in Trust said the project, running until 2018, would "honour the memory of those who gave so much in World War One by securing recreational spaces in perpetuity".

John Crisford, national chairman of the Royal British Legion, said memorials such as the one in Coventry "form a vital part of local heritage and play a key role in educating the next generation about the significance of Remembrance".

Image caption Former soldiers John Thorpe (left) and Terry Wells attended
Image caption Royal fan Fletcher Ransberry, 14, dressed up for the occasion
Image caption Pupils from Aldermans Green primary school in Coventry were at the park

Former soldier Terry Wells, from Coventry, said initiatives such as Centenary Fields, allowing members of the public to enjoy parks, were better than formal occasions commemorating war.

He said: "We don't want a military ceremony. We want to forget."

Robert Taylor, 56, from Coventry, who used to serve with the Territorial Army, had the job of guarding the wreath after Prince William placed it at the memorial.

Mr Taylor said: "I think it's a very good idea because we need to remember those who served in the war.

"We need a mixture of formal and informal (memorials). I think you have to have both."

Image caption Al Neale was one of about 50 volunteers from the Coventry Ambassadors group at the event

Fletcher Ransberry, 14, from Kenilworth, said: "I'm a really big royal fan and I wanted to give these flowers to William to give to Kate because I like her quite a lot."

The Coventry Ambassadors group put up bunting and helped to control the crowd.

Al Neale, one of about 50 volunteers from the group at the event, said: "We're here as a smiley face for the visitors to the park today."

Image caption Coventry's War Memorial Park opened in 1921 as a tribute to soldiers who died during World War One

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