A poignant new war memorial has been created to mark the lives lost by soldiers in the First World War.

In August 2017, Wiltshire Council was looking at a county-wide community scheme to plant 10,000 trees across Wiltshire to mark the end of the First World War.

West Lavington Parish Council, under the project lead of Cllr Peter Blundell, took on the challenge to find a suitable site for a memorial copse of trees, one tree for each of the twenty five parishioners who died. After a couple of false starts, Caroline Holloway, a local landowner offered a site where it would be possible to produce an avenue of beech trees lining an old farm track, with a view over the whole parish. The site between the Army’s training ground and the Ram’s Cliff escarpment leading down to the Parish added an emotional poignancy. A tenancy agreement with a realistic level of rent was agreed between the parties. The site was cleared of undergrowth and the very deep tractor ruts removed. Contractors were appointed to fence off the area, plant and maintain the trees, a suitable Purbeck Stone boulder was found at Lovell’s quarry near Corfe Castle and transport was offered by Michael Gaiger to bring it to site. Michael Hooper of Cornbury Farm manoeuvred the 3.5 tonne stone carefully into position.

A local stonemason, Daniel Bodman, was appointed to carve the twenty-five names on to a marble plaque and an information Board was also erected.

The landowner offered a four-metre long bench seat, carved by her woodsmen from an Ash tree that had to be felled locally due to Ash dieback disease and this was settled into position with the help of Michael Hooper.

Doubt crept in as to whether Armistice Day was exempt from the Covid restrictions and it took much high-level discussion before the ceremony was allowed to proceed.

On a very grey, blustery day the Chair of West Lavington Parish Council, Mrs. Julia Ford, welcomed everyone to the occasion.

Rev Marion Harrison who was unable to attend on the day had written some words especially for the occasion which were spoken by Wing Cdr Anji Scofield, the Chairman of Wiltshire Council, Richard Gamble read out the names and regiments of the fallen and two Buglers from the Rifles Regiment sounded the Last Post. HM Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire, Mrs Sarah Rose Troughton then unveiled the plaque and planted the first of the 25 beech trees.

Landowner Caroline Holloway said “I am really pleased the memorial avenue has worked out so well. Many people put much work into making it happen. It seems a fitting place, next to the Plain, but on a clear day commanding a wonderful view over the valley and across to the village. It feels these young men are back in the fold of the parish again, brought to life with their names on a beautiful stone: many with familiar recognisable names, relatives of families from the parish.”

The site can be found from West Lavington by following the A360 up through a band of trees then over the Army’s crossing point and within 100 metres turn Left at Gore Cross Farm, there is a large sign to COTEC on the crossroads. Continue up this C road for 1 mile. The Remembrance Avenue is on the left opposite to the third Red Flag post behind an old set of sheep pens and a large mound. What3Words App.: - taxed.graduated.luck

The Parish Council is extremely grateful to all those in the community and further afield who gave their time so freely to ensure that this project came to fruition on Armistice Day, the very day that marked the centenary of the burial of the unknown soldier in Westminster Abbey.