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Centenary horse heads for the Senedd

The week running up to Armistice Day is an important one for Wales’ First World War Centenary Wood, and the Woodland Trust (Coed Cadw) invited members of the public to come along and witness a one-off event at the Senedd.

The Trust is creating a Wales First World War Centenary Wood at Coed Ffos Las in Carmarthenshire, as a lasting tribute to all those involved in that terrible conflict. The project has been made possible by support from the National Lottery, through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). In particular, HLF has allocated £30,500 to support a number of elements of the project, including interpretation of the importance of woods and trees in the First World War, the creation of an orchard and wild flower meadow, skills training for volunteers in hedge-laying and dry stone walling and much else besides. The wider project has also been supported by Sainsbury’s, the lead partner in the UK Centenary Woods Project, and also the Welsh Government’s Plant! Project and the Trust’s own members and supporters.

Centenary war horse arriving at the Assembly (Photo: Rory Francis / WTML)
Centenary war horse arriving at the Assembly (Photo: Rory Francis / WTML)

The Corten steel horse

The centre-point of the wood will be a life-sized war horse sculpture, created out of Corten steel by the designer Steve Tomlinson. The work is nearly ready for delivery, but on its way to Coed Coed Ffos it will spend day outside the Senedd, the home of the Welsh Assembly on Cardiff Bay, to give Assembly Members and members of the public the change to see and admire it. There will also be an exhibition inside the Assembly.

The surface of the sculpture will be made up of leaves made of Corten steel that rusts and seals as it ages. The leaves chosen, oak, field maple, alder, beech, willow and holly, represent some of the different ways in which wood and timber were used in the war. And the heart of the sculpture will be a Horseshoe found on the site, probably from the former farm holding which once stood there.

Yr Arwr / Hero

Over the summer the Trust organised a competition asking members of the public to suggest a name for the horse. Nearly a hundred different suggestions were made. At a special ceremony outside the Senedd on 6 November, the winning entry was announced. The horse will be known as ‘Yr Arwr / Hero’, named after poet which won Hedd Wyn the Chair, posthumously, at the National Eisteddfod of 1917. The name had been suggested by Nicola Hancock, among others. The successful name had been chosen from a shortlist of three, which also included ‘Tommy’ and ‘Poppy’.

The Trust’s aim at Ffos Las it to create a special woodland, one that will stand tall in honour of the generation of 100 years ago, providing a lasting tribute to all those involved in the First World War. By the end of the project, volunteers will have planted over 90,000 trees at the site. The centrepiece, the commemorative feature, will be this horse sculpture. Featuring different leaf shapes, the sculpture highlights the key role played by woods and trees in the First World War. It will also commemorate the more than a million war horses and mules who served in the British Army in that terrible conflict.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #HLFsupported.


Sainsbury's has supported the Woodland Trust since 2004 with the launch of free range Woodland eggs. Since then donations through product sales have expanded to chicken, turkey, apples and honey. The partnership has helped the Woodland Trust to plant two million trees, including establishing a special Sainsbury’s Wood at The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Wood in Leicestershire. The partnership has also enabled the Woodland Trust to provide support and advice to Sainsbury’s on tree planting and maintenance to deliver to their farmers across the UK. Most recently, Sainsbury’s is supporting Woodland Trust’s First World War Centenary Woods project, where four new woods and millions of trees will be planted to commemorate the First World War.

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