Norfolk stonemason begins war memorial work

More than 100 servicemen and women will be remembered forever after a Norfolk stonemason began the sombre task of engraving the names of those killed in conflict last year.

Officials at a Norfolk company spoke of their honour at being asked to perform the job of carving the names of 112 members of the armed forces who lost their lives in war zones and terrorist attacks in 2010.

Nick Hindle, of Diss-based HL Perfitt, who has been a stonemason all of his working life, began the month-long assignment on Monday to etch the names of all the military personnel who were killed on duty or through terrorism last year on to a wall at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire.

The engraver, who is the manager of the Norfolk firm's North Walsham branch, said he considered it a 'huge privilege' to carve each of the 112 names at the �7m memorial, which was opened four years ago.

He said: 'They are not just names on a wall, they are families and friends and colleagues who have lost a loved one. So it's just not adding letters and names, I definitely think of these people and families.'

'You are obviously concentrating very hard on what you are doing but there's a lot more behind it than just that.

There is a lot of pressure, but it is a huge privilege to be asked to do the addition of the names.'

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The Portland stone wall forms part of the Armed Forces Memorial, the UK's tribute to the men and women who have been killed on duty or as a result of terrorist action since 1948.

The 112 deaths in 2010 represent one of the largest tolls of the last 20 years, which includes five soldiers from 1st Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment, and the names of those killed will also be read out and dedicated in a special service for families later in the year.

Mr Hindle added: 'Every year families will turn up to see their loved one's name carved on the wall. They will stand and watch for an hour or an hour-and-a-half while I do the name and it means a lot to them.'

'These people have lost somebody in conflict, possibly terrorism. They are going to miss them forever and to have their name put on the wall is a big thing. As a nation we should remember them. There are a lot of brave people's names on this wall, 16,000 names so far, and I think it is only right that they should be here.'

The National Memorial Arboretum, part of the Royal British Legion, is the UK's year-round centre for remembrance, which was dedicated by the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall in 2007.

Keith Rackham, director of HL Perfitt, which dates back to the 1840s, said it was an honour to secure a six year contract to update the memorial.

'It is a great pleasure to cut the names of the people who have died serving our country. It is very sad that there has been only one year since the second world war where we have not lost a member of the armed forces in action.'

'When you do a job like this, you have to be mindful of people coming along and we have a person on site to explain what we are doing,' he said.