3rd February 2016
Students from South Devon College’s Armed Forces Preparation course recently completed a voluntary project to rejuvenate the Burma Star Memorial Garden on Cliff Road in Paignton.
Having fallen into poor condition because of the battering sea winds, the students and lecturer Shaun Aston took it upon themselves to make the necessary repairs and raise money for new plants on behalf of the Royal British Legion. The Burma Star Memorial Garden commemorates those who served in HM and Allied Forces or Nursing Services in the Burma Campaign (now known as Myanmar), fought in Southeast Asia during the Second World War.
The students from the Armed Forces Preparation course removing old plants from the garden in late 2015
The students, who are all preparing to join the armed forces, began in winter last year by digging out the plants that had died, before organising a sponsored abseil as part of their fundraising. Despite this not being a part of their studies and an entirely voluntary project, the students’ enthusiasm and passion meant that they raised an incredible £890, all of which would go towards the renovations.
Torbay Park Ranger, Mark Iisley then ordered 4 yew trees for the garden, capable of withstanding the sea air whilst reflecting the natural, jungle-like environment of the pacific. After the local council prepared the ground, the students dug the new trees into the 4 corners of the memorial garden on Thursday 28 January, and the remaining money went towards fuchsia bushes for the outer edges of the garden.
The students in the newly refurbished Burma Star Memorial Garden
Lecturer Shaun Aston said “It has been a real honour for all of us to work with the local council in revitalising this important memorial site. The course is designed to prepare our students for all aspects of life in the armed forces, and as a part of that they may, one day, be reliant on the Royal British Legion, so this is a great opportunity for them to already give something back and begin to understand what it means to be a part of this proud community.
We all felt that it was critical to ensure the Burma Star Memorial Garden received the attention it deserved. Those who fought in Burma are often overlooked because of more prominent, local theatres of conflict, but were equally important to the war effort. To restore the garden to its former glory, and provide the families of those involved with a fitting tribute once again, was a great chance for us to show that ‘we will remember them’.”