Norwich Memorial Gardens revamp welcomed by veteran

PUBLISHED: 09:58 16 March 2011 | UPDATED: 14:49 16 March 2011

Victor Howe, president of the Norwich branch of the Royal British Legion.

Victor Howe, president of the Norwich branch of the Royal British Legion.

One of the former soldiers who will be officially opening the new-look Memorial Gardens has spoken of how pleased he is that the project has finally been completed.

Victor Howe, president of the Royal British Legion, will today cut the ribbon to mark the completion of the £2.6m restoration project.

Mr Howe, who served with the army in the Allied occupation of Austria between 1945 and 1948, will be joined by serving soldier David Heir at the ceremony, which starts at 2pm today.

Mr Howe, 84, who lives off St Stephens Road in Norwich, said: “We are immensely pleased it has come to fruition as the Norwich branch of the Royal British Legion has campaigned for this for a long time.

“Places like this give a lot of comfort to loved ones of people who have lost their lives. Some of those soldiers do not have graves, so this is a place where their parents, wives and sweethearts can come and remember them.

“I think that’s very important and we should remember that this is not just about people who have died in the world wars, but about people who have been lost in more recent conflicts such as in Afghanistan, Iraq and Bosnia.

“It does give solace to the relatives. About two weeks after the war memorial was rededicated I was walking past the memorial when I saw a single sheath of red roses had been placed on the memorial.

“Somebody had put those there, maybe because it was an anniversary of somebody they loved and it really moved me. It gives comfort to the loved ones.

“Love is greater than death, because it carries on. These gardens are all about love, remembrance and support. I am so pleased that after all these years that we will be re-opening them.”

Mr Howe said he was looking forward to meeting Mr Hair, who serves with the 1st Battalion (Vikings) of the Royal Anglian Regiment.

He said: “I have not had the pleasure of meeting of this young man, but he’s 20 years of age, the same age I was when I was a soldier.

“He’s a Norfolk man and I understand he volunteered with the lifeboat crews out in Cromer, but has been injured so has yet to see service. I am looking forward to meeting him.”

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