Stepnell supports restoration of iconic Polar Bear Sculpture at National Memorial Arboretum

Stepnell has lent its support to a project to restore the first-ever memorial to be installed at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

The Polar Bear Memorial to the 49th West Riding Infantry Division was originally dedicated at the Arboretum, the UK’s focal point for remembrance, in 1998. One of the Arboretum’s most distinctive memorials, it takes the form of a carved wooden 2.7m long polar bear on an ice floe, recreating the insignia of the Division which saw action in Norway and Iceland during the Second World War, earning the ‘Polar Bears’ nickname.

The memorial is currently undergoing conservation and, during this process, a water-damaged ‘time capsule’ was found inside, holding items including veterans’ memoirs, a casualty list and history of the Division.

Stepnell, which is currently building a new conference and events building for the Arboretum, has provided a new hermetically-sealed casket in which the original time capsule items will be stored and replaced inside the Polar Bear Memorial.

“We were honoured to be able to help with the conservation and restoration of this important and iconic memorial,” says Stepnell construction director Bill Haynes. “We are very proud of our association with the Arboretum and delighted to be helping create Aspects, the Arboretum’s new conference and events space.”

Set for completion in November 2018, the events venue will complement the Arboretum’s award-winning Remembrance Centre which opened in October 2016 and was also built by Stepnell.

 

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