A REVAMPED war memorial and new garden has finally opened after three years of hard work.
Nearly £55,000 has been ploughed into the huge project at Wickford Memorial Park, in Runwell Road, which was designed to honour war heroes and attract visitors.
Dedicated members of Wickford War Memorial Association have planted trees along the Avenue of Remembrance, complete with individual plaques telling the story of how each soldier, sailor or airman lost their lives. A derelict space in the park has also been restored, and renamed the Home Front Garden.
A further 11 trees have been planted, which represent Wickford civilians killed during the Second World War, including the youngest casualty, who was just ten.
Steve Newman, chairman of the association, said: “We all felt a sense of pride to see the new Avenue of Remembrance and Home Front Garden officially opened, but there was a sense of relief that it is finally all over.
“It has been three years since we started looking at the avenue.
When it was first created, it just had surnames of the soldiers, but those days are gone. It needed refreshing, so the people in our community could engage with it again. I have been talking to lots of people who have been stopping to read the plaques.
“When we carried out a consultation, one of the things people said was missing were proper flowerbeds and benches.
“Now the Home Front Garden is somewhere to go to relax and reflect.”
The new-look avenue and garden were officially unveiled by Lord Petre, the Lord Lieutenant of Essex.
Representatives from Essex Environment Trust and Veolia Pitsea Marshes Trust, who donated money towards the project, took to the stand during the special ceremony.
Former Basildon Council leader Tony Ball, who has been a huge supporter of Wickford War Memorial Association, also thanked sponsors, volunteers and donors.