A PEACE and Reconciliation Centre is opening its doors in Crookham to mark the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden.
Based at the Crookham United Reformed Church, which is within walking distance of the battlefield, the Peace and Reconciliation centre will serve as a sober reminder that we continue to live in a world of conflict, and aims to reflect on how to achieve global peace.
To mark the Flodden quincentenary, the centre is set to host a speaker programme throughout 2013, as well as arts and music events, and a timeline exhibition from 1513 noting significant points of both peace and conflict. There will also be a peace garden specifically designed to reflect the theme.
Diana Herbert, who has been managing the project, explained: “The centre was established to commemorate the Flodden anniversary, but it will continue beyond this year, it will be ongoing.
“We’re taking a global perspective so we’re inviting people in the global community to highlight conflicts or moments of reconciliation, whether it be the Maori people in New Zealand or the conflict in South Africa. In small world the issues are the same.”
The launch of the centre comes three years after the idea was first mooted, and just 12 months after the steering group was established.
“The steering group was formed a year ago so, with the fist event planned for January 1, it’s been quite fast,” Diana said.
With a grant from the Northern synod of the United Reformed Church, the group commissioned a design for the peace garden in the summer, and with help from local volunteers it has now been planted, and should burst into life in the spring.
“It’s going to be a very stylish garden!” Diana promised. “When we were first thinking of a peace garden, I didn’t know what it was going to look like, but the landscape designer came up with some really good ideas.
“The garden is a horse shoe shape and you progress through it, from a ‘conflict’ area - which is deep thicket and has dark and spikey plants, right through to an area of ‘reconciliation’, with rich colours and a pond. It’s not just ‘sit here and feel the vibe’, it’s also a garden that talks about the process of conflict and reconciliation.”
The centre will also host the 1513 timeline and has been awarded £9,000 from the 1513 project to put it together.
“We’ve just about started that and we’re hoping to have it up and running at the centre by May,” Diana said.
Although the Centre will not officially open until May 8 - to coincide with Red Cross ....., it will be up and running from new year’s day, when the first public event - a walk from the centre to the Flodden Memorial and back - takes place.
Steering Group member, Rev David Herbert, said: “We are delighted with how plans for the creation of the centre are progressing and would be happy to see anyone who is interested in the plans or the history of Flodden on 1st January and hope they will enjoy a bracing walk in the Northumberland countryside to begin the new year.”
Starting from the Centre at midday on Tuesday, January 1, walkers will follow the trail to the site of the battle before returning to Crookham for refreshments.
Rev Herbert said that the new year walk would be a chance to catch up with friends old and new, and contemplate future plans for 2013. He also emphasised that everyone was warmly invited to attend, regardless of their faith.
“Although the project has emerged from the Christian community, the founding steering group appreciates that striving for peace and reconciliation is not the exclusive preserve of any particular perspective,” he said. “It will work with other faiths and secular organisations to be a place of welcome for those of no faith, but who are seeking peace and reconciliation for the benefit of humankind.”
As well as the Flodden programme, the centre also intends to actively support humanitarian and charitable organisations committed to the relief of those affected by war. In particular, it will seek to focus on the work of The Red Cross, which celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2013.
For more information please contact Revd. David Herbert at email@example.com or visit www.northernbreeze.org