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Full steam ahead at Brackfield Centenary Wood

2017 was a memorable year at Brackfield Wood in Northern Ireland. Great progress has been made at the Centenary Wood, one of four being created across the UK to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. This year brings a challenge, but we’re on the right track.

A fitting end to the year

We finished 2017 on a high, with a poignant tree-planting ceremony taking place at Brackfield Wood on an autumnal Armistice Day, Saturday 11 November.

Two Chelsea Pensioners, escorted by members of the Royal British Legion, planted an oak in memory of those who lost lives and loved ones during the First World War.

The popular scarlet-coated veterans, Walter Swan and Eddie Reid, received the most heart-warming welcome. Over 100 onlookers lined the pathway as the two visitors approached, before rallying round for the ceremonial planting and Walter’s reading of ‘For the Fallen’. 

Played by local man and British Empire Medal recipient, William Sayers, ‘The Last Post’ and ‘The Reveille’ added the finishing touches to an unforgettable day.

L to R: Chelsea Pensioners Walter Swann and Eddie Reid with Thomas Hill, chair of Royal British Legion Waterside Branch (Photo: Michael Cooper)
L to R: Chelsea Pensioners Walter Swann and Eddie Reid with Thomas Hill, chair of Royal British Legion Waterside Branch (Photo: Michael Cooper)

A New Year’s challenge

We’re starting 2018 with a challenge.

Since 2007 we’ve been aware of a proposal to upgrade the busy A6 – that’s the main arterial route that connects Belfast to Londonderry. This is also the road that runs alongside our Faughan Valley family of woods, including Brackfield Wood.

It’s a decade on and we have now been served with compulsory purchase orders which will impact Brackfield and, on the other side of the A6, Burntollet Wood. In total, approximately 20 acres of land have been vested.

The roadworks will take place over a four-year period, beginning this spring. My initial thoughts were of long-term inconvenience, but I’m taking the positive stance that, in the wider scheme of things, this is a relatively short disruption - the two woods will grace the landscape, and both sides of the A6, for centuries to come.

Roadworks on the A6 from Belfast to Londonderry will impact our woods (Photo: Michael Cooper)
Roadworks on the A6 from Belfast to Londonderry will impact our woods (Photo: Michael Cooper)

Full steam ahead

With the roadworks just around the corner, we will set our sights on the commemorative element of the centenary project, focusing on an area blissfully unaffected.

We have unique plans in the pipeline, including a poetry trail. This will consist of stone pieces, strategically placed and each carved with a short poem by the renowned Dr Sam Burnside MBE. 

With support, our aim is to implement some special and lasting touches by the end of this year – the project’s grand finale. Watch this space to find out more!

Help us remember and give thanks for the great sacrifices of the First World War

Be part of this special project