The £3.2 million National Emergency Services Memorial will be opened by the monarch in 2023 in memory of all who have served past, present and future. The Daily Express – proud official newspaper partner of the memorial – was given exclusive behind-the-scenes access as work starts on the UK’s first 999 cenotaph. And today we appeal to Britain to show its gratitude to all those who have pulled on uniforms and served – past, present and future – by getting behind the fundraising drive to make it happen.
Serving Met Police Special Sergeant Thomas Scholes-Fogg, founder and chair of the National Emergency Services Memorial Charity, said: “This monument will be a national symbol of gratitude, sacrifice and remembrance.
“This is about honouring selfless public duty. Our emergency services put duty to others before everything else and it is only right we should have a focal point to honour them all.”
The five-sided monument will stand 20ft tall and be located in central London at a site yet to be determined.
It features six 8ft figures and a dog, representing each of the emergency services. They are dressed in the uniforms they would wear responding to 999 calls.
The monument was redesigned this month so the NHS could be represented in honour of the crucial role healthcare workers have played during the coronavirus crisis. The NHS figure is wearing scrubs.
It will now proudly display a male police officer, a male firefighter, a female paramedic to represent the ambulance service and other healthcare agencies like St John Ambulance, a female doctor to represent the NHS, a male maritime worker to represent HM Coastguard and Lifeboat Services, a male search and rescue volunteer and a spaniel search and rescue dog to represent emergency services animals.
It is only fitting we should recognise the vital role they play, and pay tribute to the bravery and dedication of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice
The monument has been designed by Philip Jackson, who designed the extraordinary Bomber Command memorial in London’s Green Park which was backed by this newspaper and its army of loyal readers who donated £500,000 towards the cost.
He said: “When you think of the number of people in the emergency services who have given their lives over the years it is right and just there should be a cenotaph to become the focal point of remembrance. We take them all for granted but they are all just a phone call away and we undoubtedly sleep safer at night because of them all.
“This is perhaps one of my most important pieces of work because the emergency services will have resonance with everyone.”
The National Emergency Services Memorial has the backing of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose life was saved in intensive care by hero NHS nurses after a near-death brush with coronavirus.
It has also received the blessing of Arlene Foster, the First Minister of Northern Ireland, Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, and Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales.
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The bronze edifice will immortalise forever more than 7,000
The monument has been designed by Philip Jackson
The new symbol of remembrance is also supported by all living former prime ministers and the Duke of Cambridge, himself a former Air Ambulance pilot.
Prince William said: “As a society, we owe our well-being, and indeed our lives, to the men and women in our emergency services who work tirelessly to protect us in some of the most difficult circumstances. It is only fitting we should recognise the vital role they play, and pay tribute to the bravery and dedication of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their communities.”
Mr Johnson said: “It takes a very special kind of person to put your life on the line for a complete stranger. Yet that is what we see day in, day out from the remarkable men and women of our emergency services. You protect us from harm, deliver us from danger, and tend to us in our hours of need. And you do so without hesitation or complaint – if we dial 999, we know you will be there for us.
“I know the dedicated men and women of the emergency services did not get into this line of work for the accolades or applause. You are heroes of British life, doing what you do not for the plaudits but out of a sheer sense of duty and a determination to serve the public.”
There are around 240,000 first responders in the UK – those who respond to a 999 call.
Prince William spoke out in tribute to those who lost their lives
Around 2 million heroes work in the emergency services, many of whom are volunteers, without whom services could not operate effectively.
There are dozens of individual monuments across Britain, including the fire memorial, ambulance memorial and the national police memorial (and the proposed £4 million police memorial at the arboretum), but there is no one memorial centrepiece to act as the national symbol of remembrance, sacrifice and gratitude to all emergency services personnel.
Mr Scholes-Fogg, 28, has made it his life’s work to create the first national cenotaph dedicated to all emergency services personnel in the way the cenotaph in Whitehall has become the national monument to the military.
His inspiration was his grandfather John Scholes, a retired Greater Manchester Police Sergeant, who served alongside slain Pc Alison Armitage. The 29-year-old officer was run over and killed by a career criminal driving a stolen car in Oldham on March 5, 2001.
Thomas Whaley, 38, was jailed for eight years for the manslaughter of Pc Armitage, but served just five years.
Philip Jackson also designed the Bomber Command memorial in London’s Green Park
Whaley, who had a string of convictions for car crimes, was trying to escape in a stolen car when he ran her over, dragging her under the vehicle and causing horrific multiple injuries. He claimed he had not seen the young officer, despite driving backwards and forwards over her body in his bid to escape justice.
Mr Scholes, 72, said: “I am very proud my grandson has created this important charity and is working hard to ensure we as a country honour those who have given their lives in service of others. It is hard to imagine that this started from a conversation we had whilst on a walk almost 20 years ago.
“For 30 years I served as a police officer and during that time I experienced officers having been killed whilst carrying out their duty. Police officers today are facing ever increasing violent and demanding situations.
“The death of Pc Armitage and all other emergency services personnel serve to remind us of our great debt to them – whether it is police, fire, ambulance, search and rescue and more recently with the Covid-19 pandemic medical staff, carers and all who work on the frontline.
“It is our duty to ensure we recognise the work and respect the sacrifices that have and continue to be made on our behalf. I hope everyone supports this very worthy cause and campaign.”
Mr Scholes-Fogg was due to join The Met as a regular constable this week, but his passing out parade was postponed because of the Covid-19 lockdown. He now proudly wears the same shoulder number – 5111 – as his grandfather.
He said: “I will always remember my grandfather turning to me one day and saying, ‘In this country we don’t look after our emergency services’. That has always stayed with me and has been the driving force behind getting this project off the ground.”
• Donating to the 999 Cenotaph
Cheque: Cheque made payable to the ‘National Emergency Services Memorial’ and posting it to 999 Memorial UK, PO Box 2428, Wrexham, Wales, LL11 0PW
Via the Charities Aid Foundation: https://cafdonate.cafonline.org/9636
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