Wiltshire Publications

Wiltshire stonemason to build national memorial

Nick Johnson and his wife Helen.

Nick Johnson and his wife Helen.

STONEMASONS Young Johnson have been commissioned to build a new memorial for the Afghanistan War, to be homed at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

The memorial will be built by local stonemason Nick Johnson, who recently restored Westbury’s own World War 1 memorial on Edward Street. He works out of Westbury Cemetery and the West Wilts Trading Estate.

The piece will be based on the memorial wall that currently stands at Camp Bastion, the British military base in Helmand Province. The wall has the names of all 453 British soliders who have been killed since military operations began in 2001.

Nick was commissioned to do the piece by the National Memorial Arboretum, and expects to have it finished in January next year. He has done 18 military memorials in the past to commemorate, among others, the Iraq and Falklands wars, as well as for the Essex and Royal Leicestershire Regiments, the RAF, and the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Nick said, “I’ve been a stonemason for 34 years and take pride in what I do. I didn’t have a particular desire to start doing war memorials but I  started getting asked to do them and couldn’t say no!

“I realise that while this is a job for me, they’re very important and there’s a great deal of emotion involved. The memorials aren’t just pieces of stone; when I go to the dedication services with the soldiers, I see how much they mean to them.

“The memorial will be based around the one in Camp Bastion, which they will be bringing back in pieces when they withdraw. It’ll be about 30 feet long and  six and a half feet high, and carved using hammers, chisels, and machinery.”

David Cameron recently announced plans to withdraw all remaining British troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year, following 13 years of conflict in the wake of 9/11.

Young Johnson is a specialist monumental masonry firm based in Westbury, specialising in memorial headstones, carvings, kitchen work areas, fireplaces and any other type of stone masonry.

Nick is currently looking to employ a trainee stonemason; for more information contact 01373 859629.