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Burma Star collaboration brings meaningful colour back to Rochdale

26 June 2020

The Burma Star floral display.

A special tribute to commemorate 75 years of The Burma Star Association has been installed in Rochdale.

Ahead of Armed Forces Day on Saturday, 27 June 2020, the council was delighted to have been approached to design and create a Burma Star floral display at Broadfield slopes in Rochdale, sitting proudly under the John Bright statue.

The display, designed and installed by the council's environmental management team, took more than 1,400 plants to create and replicates the medal awarded to British and Commonwealth forces who served in the Burma Campaign from 1941 to 1945, during World War 2.

The colours represent different elements - red representing the Army & Commonwealth Forces, dark blue representing British Naval Forces and yellow for the sun.

Councillor Neil Emmott, cabinet member for environment at Rochdale Borough Council, said: "We were delighted to have been able to fulfil this vision acknowledging the brave contribution and the many sacrifices that soldiers made throughout World War 2. We honour those with this mark of respect - remembering those fallen and celebrate those still with us today.

"It is symbol of remembrance, but also brings colour and signs of new growth within our borough, through which has been a difficult time. I hope that it will be enjoyed by residents and visitors alike throughout the coming weeks."

The initial idea was pitched at Rochdale in Bloom by the Rochdale and District Fusiliers' Association, which resulted in the collaboration.

Roy Down, chairman of Rochdale in Bloom, said: "The chance to help commemorate 75 years of the Burma Star Association was something that we did not hesitate to say 'yes' to. Rochdale in Bloom has a history of helping to create features that commemorate people who have served their country, especially those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. This project is once again a great example of different groups working together in co-operation to create something meaningful in our town."

John Rodgers, vice president and vice chairman of Rochdale & District Fusiliers' Association said: "Many Burma Star Holders from this area were also members of the Rochdale and District Fusiliers' Association. Over the years, approximately 56,000 Burma Star holders – or holders of the Pacific Star with 'Burma clasp' - joined the Burma Star Association. Sadly, the Burma Star Association as a charity will close on 15 August 2020, the 75th Anniversary of VJ Day.

"This medal was awarded to British and Commonwealth forces who served in the Burma Campaign from 1941 to 1945, during the Second World War. As well as British Army units, many of its units were from the Indian Army and there were also significant contributions from West and East African divisions. They called themselves the forgotten army - they will never be forgotten here. We will be marking the event over the weekend of the 15 August 2020 and 16 August 2020, details to be confirmed."

Usually, a display would have been created for the Royal Horticultural Society's flower show in Cheshire's Tatton Park this July, but as this is not going ahead, this display, here in our borough can be appreciated by many.

A flag will be raised outside of Rochdale Town Hall on Friday, 26 June 2020 as a mark of respect.

Lest we forget.