A PENARTH woman has branded the Vale Council’s refusal to add her Royal Marine fiancé’s name to the town’s cenotaph as disgusting and an insult to his memory
Sian Woodland, who has recently been appointed as a fundraiser for the Forces Support charity, had asked that Royal Marine Paul Woodland’s name be added to the cenotaph after he died during a Special Forces training exercise in October 2012.
The Vale Council has refused her request as he didn’t die in a recognised conflict, but said it would instead place a bench or plant a memorial tree in his name.
“I was quite insulted when they said that as Paul fought in two wars (Afghanistan and Iraq), peace kept in Sierra Leone and was training to become Special Forces to defend our country,” she said.
“I felt it was a bit of an insult.
“It’s not a good enough reason to not have him on there.
“He didn’t die at war but he died serving in his country.”
Sian has also contacted Penarth MP Stephen Doughty and he has raised the issue in the Houses of Parliament and written to the Vale Council.
She added: “Paul’s name is on the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, which is the main memorial for fallen soldiers in the UK, but not in the community where he was born and bred and where his whole family live.
“We need somewhere where the local community can go that isn’t far away, as when Paul’s parents are older they might not be able to travel.”
Phil Beaman, operational manager for parks and ground maintenance at the Vale Council, said: “The agreed convention for the Cenotaph in Alexandra Park, Penarth, is that the person to be commemorated, among other conditions, must have died on active military service for Great Britain and the Dominions in a recognised conflict. As Mr Woodland tragically died on active service but not in a recognised conflict, this is the reason for the refusal of adding the name to the Cenotaph.”
Since Paul’s death Sian has raised more than £13,000 for the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund in 2013, and is on course to raise more than £10,000 this year, in Paul’s memory.
Her charity work has led to her being appointed as a fundraiser for the Forces Support charity, which helps the families of fallen soldiers with practical work during their time of need.
After the death of Penarth-born Royal Marine Paul Woodland the charity supported his family in a number of ways during a traumatic time. As well as coping with Paul’s tragic death his family had to contend with the death of his grandfather, while his father was also admitted to intensive care with pneumonia.
The charity helped clear two rooms that were full of junk in the family’s home and built a memorial bench and plaque, in tribute to Paul, in the back garden of their St David’s Crescent home.
Alicia Woodland, Paul’s mother, praised the charity for supporting their family during a traumatic time.
She added that they often remembered Paul by sitting in the memorial bench in the back garden.
Sian, who was considering setting up her own charity, said: “It’s the only charity out there that offers practical support to bereaved military families.
“A lot of it will be getting volunteers in this area to help with fundraising and, once we get a strong enough base, we can look at setting up a second-hand charity shop here.”
Sian has a number of fundraising events planned for the rest of the year, including taking part in a 17k Commando Challenge this weekend, the Gibraltar Rock Run next month, starring in the 2015 Military Wives calendar, running the Cardiff Half Marathon, and a Royal Marine black tie dinner at the Swalec Stadium in October.
To sponsor Sian in her fundraising for the Royal Marine Charitable Trust Fund go to https://www.justgiving.com/Woody80/