RoadPeace, the national charity for road crash victims, has this week erected a memorial stone at the National Memorial Arboretum (NMA), Staffordshire.
The stone has been crafted by renowned carver and artist Martin Cook who has made pieces for Westminster Abbey, the British Museum, the Royal Family, RHS Chelsea Flower Show and celebrities such as Billy Connolly and Sir Michael Parkinson.
He also carved the lettering and doves for the Bali Bombings Memorial, a permanent memorial in central London to victims of the 2002 bombings in Bali, Indonesia.
The stone was donated by England’s last working slate mine, Honister Slate Mine, based in the heart of the Lake District.
The mine is at the top of Honister Pass – one of the steepest roads in the country – and slate is sourced from deep inside a neighbouring mountain, Fleetwith Pike.
The memorial stone is at the RoadPeace Wood, an area at the NMA where individual trees have been planted to remember those who have lost their lives or been injured because of a road crash.
Planting of trees in the RoadPeace Wood began in spring 2001 and the wood was named after the charity on 10 August 2002.
In August, dedicated as National Road Victim Month, following the death of Princess Diana in a road crash in 1997, RoadPeace holds an annual ceremony of remembrance at the RoadPeace Wood.
This year’s service will be held online on 14 August due to the pandemic, and will be an opportunity for families to remember loved ones who have been killed on the roads.
Martin Cook, artist/letter carver, with over 30 years’ experience said:
“The slate is a beautiful piece of Cumbrian slate from Honister. There was a choice of different pieces but it was obvious this was the one to use. Not only was there a perfect space to include the RoadPeace logo, it also stands at 5ft 6.
The stone was lovely to carve. The art of letter carving has to some extent been lost, as most carving nowadays is done by machinery. Letter carving has been in my family for 400 years, and the crushed colour of slate is so much lighter than the rest of it, that you don’t need to paint it. It was a beautiful piece to carve by hand.”
Nick Simmons, RoadPeace CEO, said:
“In a year when the pandemic has prevented us from coming together physically to remember lives lost and broken on the road, it seems all the more pertinent to install the memorial stone as a physical commemoration to crash victims.
Five people are reported killed every day in Britain, and over 70 are reported seriously injured. Road deaths are not normal deaths. They are sudden and unnatural, and loved ones rarely have a chance to say goodbye. We hope the memorial stone provides a place to remember them, and for society to reflect on the toll of death and injury.
We’re very grateful to Honister Slate Mine for donating the slate, and for Martin Cook’s craftsmanship in carving the stone.”
Martin Cook, hand carving the stone in his workshop.
The RoadPeace logo hand-carved
Updated on: 12 August 2021