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National Memorial Arboretum celebrates ‘Sports, Service and the Commonwealth’

This summer, the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire is celebrating sport, service and friendship between the nations and territories of the Commonwealth. The exciting programme of exhibitions and activities at the Nation’s year-round place to remember includes a brand-new outdoor escape challenge and an augmented reality experience.

Timed to coincide with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, the Arboretum’s ‘Sports, Service and the Commonwealth’ programme shines a light on the camaraderie of communities from across the Commonwealth who have served alongside each other, while highlighting the important role of sport in the Armed Forces. This new programme of activities is presented as part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival.

Armed Forces personnel from across the nations and territories of the Commonwealth have served, and continue to serve, alongside each other in times of war and peace, working together to protect our freedoms and way of life. The Arboretum is home to many memorials that honour the service and collaboration of diverse communities from across the Commonwealth.

“Our ‘Sports, Service and the Commonwealth’ summer programme is a celebration of international friendships and the diverse communities who live in Britain today,” said Chris Ansell, Head of Participation and Learning at the National Memorial Arboretum. “With 2022 being the year of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and with Birmingham hosting the Commonwealth Games, we thought this was a fantastic opportunity to explore how the Commonwealth has helped shape our communities and to highlight the role that sport plays in the lives of Armed Forces personnel and veterans returning to civilian life.”

Highlights for visitors include:

The Queen’s Commonwealth (free), 17 May – 19 June

Commemorating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and celebrating the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, this exhibition explores the Queen’s role as the Head of the Commonwealth. This celebration of the countries that make up a third of the world’s population will examine how the Commonwealth fosters collaboration and friendship through a shared spirit of service.

Commonwealth ARboretum (free), 28 May – 4 September

This new augmented reality experience takes families on a journey to learn about the diverse communities and friendship of countries that take part in the Commonwealth Games. Commonwealth ARboretum will be in the free Landscapes of Life exhibition in the Remembrance Centre.

Commonwealth Outdoor Escape Challenge (£12/£15 per group), 28 May – 30 October

Now in its third year, this year’s version of the popular outdoor escape challenge invites groups of families and friends to solve cryptic puzzles and discover the stories behind some of the memorials dedicated to communities from across the Commonwealth.

Sports in Service (free), 25 June – 16 October

The Sports in Service exhibition explores the role sport plays in supporting Armed Forces personnel and veterans. Serving in the Armed Forces is physically demanding, and personnel undertake rigorous physical training to ensure they remain fit and ready to serve. Many personnel also compete in service sports teams, helping to foster camaraderie while developing skills. In addition, sports often play a crucial role in rehabilitating personnel who have been injured or are living with the impacts of service.

Greetings from… (free), 28 May – 13 November

Visitors are invited to design their own postcard in remembrance of those who have travelled to serve their nation and build new communities, keeping in touch with distant loved ones and friends with letters and postcards. The designs will be added to a new art installation in the grounds of the Arboretum.

“Visitors will be able to see new exhibitions, contribute to a collaborative work of art, join guided walks, take part in sporting activities, an augmented reality experience and our ever-popular outdoor escape challenge,” continued Chris. “They’ll be inspired to learn about some of the many diverse communities from across the Commonwealth and the incredible people who have served alongside each other, building the international friendships and world we know today.”

‘Sports, Service and the Commonwealth’ will run throughout Summer 2022, with additional Commonwealth-inspired art and sporting activities, trails, talks and guided walks on offer for visitors. For the full programme, visit:


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