D-Day Revisited is proposing a commemorative garden installation to celebrate our D-Day veterans on the 75th anniversary of the Normandy Landings.
The ‘D-Day 75’ Garden will be exhibited on the South Grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea during the 2019 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, which will take place 21st-25th May 2019. 75 Normandy veterans will be invited to take part and share their incredible stories with members of the public.
With surviving Normandy veterans now approaching 100 years of age, this garden will provide a unique opportunity to celebrate our wartime generation and for visitors to hear the incredible stories of the men and women who experienced it first hand. We are therefore appealing to the public to help them bring this garden to life and create a lasting tribute to our treasured veterans.
11th Armoured Division veteran Bill Pendell MM (pictured above) was chosen by D-Day Revisited to represent the Normandy veterans in this garden tribute and he was so looking forward to attending the Chelsea Show in May. Sadly this was not to be as Bill passed away 1st December, aged 97. His loss calls into focus the diminishing time we have left with our wartime generation and strengthens our resolve to make this garden a reality in his memory.
75 Reasons to Show Support
The overall ‘D-Day 75’ Garden project is budgeted to cost £250,000:
£200,000 for the garden;
£50,000 to accommodate veterans, carers and essential medical support volunteers in central London.
The campaign has already secured £25,000 funding and we hope the remaining £225,000 will be met by national support through a combination of £75,000 from public donations and 75 businesses contributing a minimum of £2000.
It is important this garden goes on to have a life after the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Echoing the journey of thousands of young men 75 years ago, the ‘D-Day 75 Garden’ will travel across the Channel to France ready to be unveiled in a new site on the 6th of June 2019, where it will become a permanent legacy. It is hoped that an additional £40,000 for this relocation might be met by LIBOR funding allocated to WWII veterans by HM Treasury to ensure this legacy.
Each donation, no matter how small, is hugely appreciated. Just £7.50 will pay for three of the 7500 ‘sea thrift’ plants, which are so intrinsic to the garden design.
Reflecting Across 75 Years
Designed by multi RHS gold medal winning John Everiss, the ‘D-Day 75’ Garden allows visitors to pause, reflect and learn.
Two life-size sculptures will bookmark the entrance to the 32m x 12m garden and narrate the scene which unfolds behind them. To one side a veteran modelled on Bill Pendell MM sits on a stone plinth proudly wearing his medals and beret. Hand-carved from a single block of Millstone Grit, Bill looks across at a fragile metal figure of himself as a 22 year old; pausing before rushing up the beachhead.
Behind young Bill four waves break on the beach through a series of Cor-Ten steel angled poles, designed to represent “Rommel’s asparagus” placed by the occupying forces to ensnare landing craft. Four further fragile metallic figures struggle out of the water, trying to avoid hidden obstacles or shell holes.
Beyond veteran Bill, a further 15 stone plinths stretch out towards the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Each day 15 veterans will be invited to engage with the garden and sit beside Bill for a moment; looking back at the scene of young soldiers. Here they’ll be surrounded by a carpet of 7,500 Armeria maritima plants (‘sea thrift’), which would have been seen by the troops as they embarked along the south coast of England and again as they pushed inland off the Normandy beaches.
In this moment the 75 years which separates one man from another is bridged and visitors are invited to consider how it must feel for veterans to reflect on the intense experiences they endured on D-Day and the days that followed.
Backed by the families of Field Marshall Montgomery and General Eisenhower, the ‘D-Day 75’ Garden will provide a fitting tribute to Bill Pendell and his pals. Bill was a free spirit. A generous and modest man, with a twinkle in his eye and an enormous zest for life which was truly infectious. We are proud to have known him and in turn, with the help of his daughter Fay Pendell and his best friend Joe Cattini, we hope to do him proud in May.
If you would like to make a contribution to the project but prefer to do so by post, please make your cheque payable to “D-Day 75 Garden” and send it to: D-Day Revisited, The Armoury Building, Hawarden Aviation Park, Flint Road, Chester, CH4 0GZ.
We thank you for your support… #dday75garden