News Feature

Sir Nicholas Winton Memorial Garden opened by Prime Minister

The Sir Nicholas Winton Memorial Garden, in Maidenhead, was designed and built by the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead in honour of Sir Nicholas’ brave actions that led to 669 children being rescued from Nazi-occupied Prague and rehomed in Britain in 1939.
The memorial garden is representative of the journey Sir Nicholas’ took utilising symbolism throughout. At the entrance to the garden stands an arch that was installed for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. As soon as you step through you are taken on Sir Nicholas’ challenging journey.
The winding path represents the journey Sir Nicholas took and the twists and turns of the path are the challenges he faced. Railway sleepers have been laid like a railway track to symbolise the trains that took the children out of Prague to safety.
Sookyoung Im, Landscape Architect at Project Centre Ltd, worked with the Royal Borough to design the planting in the garden, from concept through to detailed design. Sookyoung told us: “Meaningful planting design can complement and play a key role to a memorial garden. We wanted to use plants that symbolise not only the journey Sir Nicholas took but also his beliefs.” Plants have been selected to provide long seasonal interest and promote low maintenance regime and sustainability.
Although still in its infancy, you can’t help but notice the planting as soon as you step through. In the first part of the path the yellow and black bamboo protects the children he saved (and now visitors) from evil spirits. In time it will provide a more enclosed area, obstructing the view for visitors and building excitement as to what’s around the next corner. Children from Courthouse Junior School and Furze Platt Junior School planted strawberry plants among the bamboo, to symbolise peace and spiritual purity, attributes that Sir Nicholas advocated.
Moving round you will come to a clearing, where the view opens up. Here you can enjoy a range of cool and warm coloured plants, and some are aromatic, utilising all senses, including white lilac which symbolises innocence and peace, before heading up to the tranquillity of the pond. Budding gardeners from local schools also planted shrubs around the edge of the pond and seating has been provided for visitors to enjoy the views and relax in the peacefulness of the area.
In a couple of years time the memorial garden will mature and grow, with the heart of the garden remaining as a celebration of what Sir Nicholas achieved.
Prime Minister and Maidenhead MP, the Rt Hon Theresa May said: “I had the pleasure of meeting Sir Nicholas and some of the grown up children who owed their lives and futures to him. He was a man who devoted his whole life, day in and day out, to active goodness. It’s wonderful we have this garden in Maidenhead and I hope it will inspire people, young and old, to come here, think about Nicky and be encouraged to help others.”
Cllr Samantha Rayner, cabinet member for culture and communities at the Royal Borough, said: “I hope that this garden can become a space for residents and visitors to enjoy throughout the year and as a quiet place to reflect on the great man who inspired its design.”

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