The foundation stone of the Portland limestone Armed Forces Memorial that will be opened by the Queen later in the year was laid last month (January) by the Lord-Lieutenant of Staffordshire, James Hawley.
The production of the stone for the £7million memorial is now well under way on the computerised machinery in the workshops of S McConnell & Sons in Kilkeel, Northern Ireland. The stone is being supplied by both of the companies extracting limestone from Portland in Dorset - 250m3 (600 tonnes) of Bowers Basebed from Albion Stone and 130m3 (300 tonnes) of Coombefield copings, wreath bases and a central obelisk from Stone Firms.
The memorial, designed by architect Liam O'Connor in London, is to be built on a man-made hillock at the National Memorial Arboretum near Lichfield, Staffordshire. It will be inscribed with the names of all the servicemen and women who have died in the course of their duties since the end of World War Two - around 16,500 of them so far and growing all the time.
A special font has been designed by world famous stone lettercutter Richard Kindersley for the inscriptions. Richard normally only cuts letters by hand, but as it would take five lettercutters 10 years to cut all the names into the stone, he has, for the first time, produced a font specially designed to transfer to computers so that the letters can be cut by McConnell's big Omag CNC workcentre.