A COMMUNITY is already benefitting from a newly created memorial space, as the project nears completion some three years after its inception.

Residents of Augusta Park are now able to enjoy the estate’s new memorial garden, fittingly situated next to Poppy Park on the northern side of the development.

Cllr Nick Matthews spearheaded the project with support from the August Park Community Association (APCA), while funds were provided via a community grant from the Ministry of Defence (MOD).

Those grant funds were made available some years ago, but it wasn’t until recently that the ball really got moving on plans to put that money to use.

Cllr Matthews told the Advertiser: “Initially, some years ago, as part of a community grant, the MOD gave money to the APCA because there’s a number of servicemen and women and families in and around Augusta.

“But it never came to fruition. Nothing ever happened, the money just stayed there for years. So when I got elected and found out about it I said, ‘let’s make it happen’.”

Working with APCA, it was decided the grant should be used to create a memorial garden. Four different designs were devised and shared with the residents of Augusta Park who helped decide which would be adopted.

Cllr Matthews, who was recently appointed the borough council’s Armed Forces Champion, says he’s been delighted with the community’s response to the project, with plenty of people making use of the space already.

“One thing I’m thrilled about is, even with all the keyboard warriors we hear about, I’ve not seen one derogatory comment about it,” he said. “And every time I’ve been up there in the last few weeks there’s been people sat there on the benches and it’s fantastic to see.”

He added: “I am incredibly passionate about this and Augusta Park and Picket Piece in particular, they all have a rather large proportion of armed forces families. And they are not just veterans and people who have served in the army. These are people who are still serving and I don’t think we should ever lose sight of that.

“It’s somewhere we can sit and relax and reflect on the service they have all given.”

Cllr Matthews also notes that the project isn’t quite finished just yet.

He continued: “I’ve written my own little inscription which is going on a stone monolith which we literally just ordered this week. That will finish it off lovely I think, and that will be going up in four weeks’ time.”