England

Memorial Arboretum Land Girls monument unveiled after three-year fundraising campaign

Clay Maquette Image copyright SWFU
Image caption A clay maquette shows how the finished sculpture will look when it is unveiled

A memorial to Britain's Land Girls funded by an £85,000 fundraising campaign has been unveiled.

The bronze statue - created to honour women who served in the Land Army during World War Two - has been placed at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire.

A three-year campaign by the Staffordshire Women's Food and Farming Union (SWFU) to fund the project received over 1,000 donations.

Leftover funds will be spent on upkeep.

'Fed the nation'

The 8ft (2.4m) sculpture depicts a Land Girl and Lumber Jill - a woman who worked in the Timber Corps - standing side by side.

Olive Wright, from Alton in Hampshire, one of more than 400 former Land Army members who travelled to the ceremony, remembers how tired she was after working "long hours" during the summer months.

"The saying 'You can go to sleep on a broom' is true," the 92-year-old said.

After she left Land Army in 1949 she said her corduroy uniform breeches made "a very nice pair of trousers for my son".

Image copyright SWFU
Image caption Sculptor Denise Dutton created the finished statue at her studio in Stoke-on-Trent
Image copyright SWFU
Image caption Former Land Girl Mary Wright, from Cannock, with her granddaughter, Izzy (pictured right), who posed for the land girl figure in the sculpture

Eighty-five-year-old Pauline Davey, from Suffolk, lied about her age to join up.

She went from working in a shop to living on a farm in West Sussex and said she will "never forget" her time in the Land Army.

Eunice Finney, of the SWFU, said the organisation was approached by the former curator of the arboretum in 2011."They were getting four or five letters a week asking why there wasn't a memorial for the land girls," she said.

She said a small group of SWFU members co-ordinated a number of fundraising events, helped by dozens of volunteers.

Image copyright NATIONAL MEMORIAL ARBORETUM
Image caption The exhibit, which is being kept under wraps until 14:00 BST, was recently installed at the Alrewas site

Ms Finney said the memorial was "poignant".

"Without the WLA we'd never have fed the nation during the war years," she said.

"They changed the face of British agriculture single-handedly - before the war we were importing most of our food.

"By the end of the war it was very different."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites