14th May 2018

CENTENARY FIELDS: Birch Gardens latest space in Staffordshire protected

Birch Gardens in Leek has become the latest space in Staffordshire protected as part of the Centenary Fields programme. A ceremony of dedication took place on Thursday 8th May attended by representatives from the Council, the Friends of Birch Gardens, Leek Town Council and the Royal British Legion.

The space is the fourth Centenary Field to be protected with Fields in Trust in Staffordshire in memory of those who lost their lives during World War I and the second to be protected by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council as part of the programme.

Birch Gardens is located to the north-west of Leek town centre and was given in 1935 for informal recreation. Surrounded by residential areas it includes flowers beds, grassed areas and pathways throughout with a wide variety of trees and shrubs. Close to the Haregate area of Leek the space is protected in memory of those from this locale who gave their lives during World War I.

The newly protected Centenary Field is the second space protected under the programme by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, who also protected the new bowling green at St Lawrence Recreation Ground in Biddulph in September 2016.

Those spaces join Kings Bromley Village Hall Play Area in Kings Bromley, Lichfield and Queens Gardens in Newcastle-under-Lyme as protected Centenary Fields in Staffordshire.

Speaking at the ceremony of dedication Cabinet member for communities and parks at the District Council, Councillor Mike Bowen, said: "This year marks 100 years since the end of World War I and, as the nation remembers the sacrifices made, it's particularly fitting that we dedicate a much-valued open space to quiet reflection and protect it for future generations as a living legacy. It's a beautiful place and I'd like to thank the volunteers of the Friends group who so willingly give up their time to keeping it so alongside officers from the Council."

Secretary of the Friends of Birch Gardens, Derek Hilyer, added: "We've worked in close partnership with the Council to improve and take care of these gardens, so we're delighted that this space will be protected in the future as somewhere to reflect on the past. We hope people will come and spend some quiet time here to enjoy these pleasant surroundings in peace - it's a real little haven in our busy market town."

Centenary Fields is working in partnership with The Royal British Legion the programme aims to protect parks, playing fields and other recreational spaces in perpetuity to honour the memory of the millions who lost their lives in World War I.

Speaking about the latest dedication as part of the programme Fields in Trust Chief Executive, Helen Griffiths, said: "I congratulate Staffordshire Moorlands District Council for dedicating their second Centenary Field. Birch Gardens will join St Lawrence Recreation Ground in Biddulph and be included forever in our national programme to commemorate the centenary of World War I. The local community will recognise the Council's clear commitment to the importance of these spaces now and in the future."

Find out more about the Centenary Fields programme.