While researching for his book "The Battle of the Flames" in 1991 David Needham realised that the sacrifice made by those involved in Fire and Rescue within the County had not been publicly recognised and that no focal point existed for family, friends and colleagues to pay their respects existed locally.
He tried on three occasions to obtain permission from the Fire & Rescue Service to erect a memorial to those who had given their lives in service, but on each time encountered obstacles that, at that point, could not be overcome. In 2010 he approached three other retired fire service colleagues and they resolved to see the project through.

The decision to raise money to provide a lasting memorial to those members of the Fire and Rescue Services, who had given their life in the service of others, resulted in a three year effort and involved stations doing fund raising as well as applying for community funds. Re-enactment displays were organised and street collections carried out where the public could donate. Two people raised money by doing a parachute jump with the Red Devils and David Needham received no royalties from the sales of his book "The Battle of the Flames" instead he requested 200 copies of the book from the publishers which then were sold as part of the fund raising, realising the sum of 1800 for the appeal.
Thanks to the dedication of the fund raisers and the connection that the community clearly has with their Fire Service, a total of 16,898.51 was raised during the appeal.

The decision on the form that the memorial would take was not easy and changed over time. At the start of the project, four of the team, Trevor Newton, David Needham, Bryan Docherty and Alan Yeo, were invited to visit Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service who had a memorial to their war time crews. This is a larger than life size bronze statue entitled "The Fourth Arm" the artist was prepared to create a bronze of a similar size to our requirements. Excited by the prospect of such a statue the committee began looking for a suitable location.

From the photographs taken during this visit one stood out and seemed to represent our mission. With Hampshire's blessing a modified version of this picture became the Memorial Committee Logo.

To start the fund raising it was felt that a suitable Civic launch would set the scene and give the appeal the gravitas that it deserved. Dave and Alan met with The Lord Mayor of Nottingham, Cllr Jeannie Packer and set out their aspirations and asked for her help. The Lord Mayor was involved with the creation of two other memorials at that time but readily agreed to give what assistance she could. At that meeting the committee's representative were introduced to Norman, Jeannie's husband. Norman had served as a Fireman in the RAF and pledged his support for the memorial appeal. True to their word, Jeanie with Norman's help organised a high profile launch in the Old Market square in Nottingham, with Robin Hood and an assembled press core in attendance.

Through the Lord Mayor, The Nottingham City Council suggested that within the memorial gardens on the Victoria embankment, at the side of the River Trent, would be fitting and have close links to the other monuments sited there. A considerable amount of work was done on a feasibility study along with the City Parks and the Planning department. It was around this time that, with the full costing of such a venture to hand it was realised that the prospect of raising the huge sums of money involved to commission a sculpture and have it installed, while not unattainable, would certainly delay the realisation of the vision by many years. Looking at other options, the team decided that a stone monument would not only meet the basic criteria set at the beginning "to erect a fitting memorial to the memory of those who gave their life as a member of the Fire and Rescue Services" but would also make the whole project achievable in a reasonable time frame. Ben Percival of Ernest Smith stone masons had been extremely helpful during the discussions surrounding the bronze statue. This would have sat on a stone plinth onto which the names that we wanted to remember would have been carved and Ben had been an enthusiastic and knowledgeable with experience of other memorials within the City. Ben readily agreed to attend each committee meeting as an advisor. His input was so valuable that he became a full voting member, abstaining only on votes that concerned financial decisions in respect of the stone and its carving. His suggestion that a stone obelisk would be appropriate was agreed by the committee and the search for a site continued. One option that ran for a while was a site within the Nottingham Castle grounds. Ultimately the decision was made that the City Council preferred to keep the area for Military memorials such as the one commemorating the recipients of the Victoria Cross. Once Jeannie's tenure as Lord Mayor of Nottingham came to an end she and Norman were free to give more of their time to the appeal and joined the committee, where their knowledge of other similar appeals and understanding of the workings of the City Council saved many hours of work and smoothed many miles of "red tape". Two serving members of the service, Adrian Pearce-Naylor and Arron Enever, became deeply involved in fund raising activities alongside David Needham and they were asked to bring their expertise to the committee meetings. Their connection to today's service and their enthusiasm constantly helped to move things on. Both were serving at Highfields fire station where permission had been given for the committee to meet, having two insiders ensured that a room was booked whenever it was required! Discussions on sitting the memorial continued over a number of weeks.

The one location that continually came up was the Lace Market area of the City and specifically St. Mary's Church. The Lace Market had been a condensed area of large factories which as the name suggests were connected mainly with the production and finishing of lace and its associated trades. During World War II this area was extensively damaged committing the Fire Service to many hours and days of fire fighting activity. Strangely for such a high risk area, the Shire Hall opposite St. Mary's was the location for the Fire Control room during the war years. The Lace Market remained an area of high fire service activity for many years after the war, being the scene of many large fires which in some cases created the spaces upon which toady's car parks are built! Some of the committee members have vivid memories of huge blazes over the years involving 15 or 20 pumping appliances. Discussions with the Vicar of St. Mary's, the Reverend Peter Harrison, indicated that the Church felt, as we did, that this was a most suitable location.
The plans were put to the Church Council and although not passed unanimously the matter was referred to the Southwell Diocese for final determination. Permission to erect the memorial was given and plans put in place to comply with all of the conditions contained in the consent. A date of 8th or 9th May 2013 was the target for unveiling the memorial to coincide with the date of the worst air raid and loss of life experienced by Nottingham during World War II.
In late 2012 a decision had to be made on ordering the stone. Fortunately a donation from the winding up of The Nottinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service Officers Club ensured that sufficient funds would be available to meet this cost and the order was placed. This gave the Mason the lead-in time to have the memorial on site for the projected unveiling date. The Nottinghamshire memorial committee had become affiliated to the National Firefighters Memorial Trust, in the course of their work, the patron of which is HRH The Princess Royal and the Trust indicated that Her Royal Highness may available to unveil the memorial. It was felt that this would be a fitting conclusion to the project and one that would create a memorable day for the relatives and friends of those commemorated by the memorial. Organising such an event was yet another challenge for the committee and one that they had not anticipated.
As the majority of the committee consisted of retired Officers and serving personnel, they recognised that a formal event relating to the Fire Service should have the attendance of the Chief Fire Officer. Nottinghamshire's Chief, Frank Swann, was approached and he agreed to attend and provide practical help, by assigning one of his senior staff (Area Manager John Mann) to work with the committee on the many tasks that had to be completed. The unveiling was an occasion displaying the best traditions of the Fire Service and provided a fitting climax to three years of hard work.

The committee also wish to place on record their thanks to the many organisations and individuals who contributed their time, effort and money to provide this lasting memorial. Special mention must be made of the AFS and NFS display group, the Fire Service Preservation Group and the Mansfield Fire Museum. In particular David Moore, Dave Madden and Terry Spalding for their support with fund raising and in providing vintage fire appliances and people in wartime uniform for many events including the 1940's weekend at Nottingham's Central Fire Station, the Church Service to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Nottingham in May 1941 and of course their unforgettable contribution to the Memorial unveiling.

 

 

 

 

 

web master Alan Yeo

Updated December 3, 2014

©Nottinghamshire Firefighters Memorial 2010