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Centenary Field status for Leek park

Birch Gardens in Leek has been dedicated as a Centenary Field in memory of those who lost their lives during World War 1.

Staffordshire Moorlands District Council and the Friends of Birch Gardens nominated the park which is now safeguarded as a public open space through Fields in Trust scheme.

This national programme, operated in partnership with the Royal British Legion, is a unique way to commemorate the centenary of World War 1. It gives landowners the opportunity to dedicate space to remember the sacrifices of those who gave their lives during the conflict but also to ensure that future generations have valuable green space to enjoy as a living legacy.

A ceremony of dedication took place on Thursday 8 May attended by representatives from the Council, the Friends of Birch Gardens, Leek Town Council and the Royal British Legion.

Councillor Mike Bowen, Cabinet member for communities and parks at the District Council, said: "This year marks 100 years since the end of World War 1 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.

"Of the three Centenary Fields in Staffordshire I'm proud to say we now have two in the Moorlands - this one in Leek and the bowling green at St Lawrence Recreation Ground in Biddulph which was the first in the county."

Derek Hilyer, Secretary of the Friends of Birch Gardens, said: "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."

Unveiling a plaque to mark the dedication, Councillor Bowen added: "I would also like to thank Tarmac for providing the stone on which we display our plaque which will remind us all of the sacrifice of life during the 1914 to 1918 conflict and, as we are doing this on the anniversary of VE Day, the Second World War too."

Helen Griffiths, Fields in Trust Chief Executive, 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 1. The local community will recognise the Council's clear commitment to the importance of these spaces now and in the future."

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