My short book Life Stories gives five biographical accounts of the inspirational human stories behind the memorials at the National Memorial Arboretum, near Lichfield in Staffordshire.
I first visited the NMA in 2007 to interview its chief executive for a magazine article and it made a lasting impression on me.
I was captivated by the memorials and what they stood for, and was keen to know much more about the people they commemorate.
Life Stories grew out of this desire to know more about the human side of the NMA, and the first five remarkable personal accounts in this project were published in an illustrated volume in August 2010.
The stories featured are:
- Elaine Betts, whose life-changing lung transplant enabled her to experience the joy of breathing for the first time
- Janet Booth, who fought a 14-year legal battle to clear the name of her grandfather, who was shot for alleged cowardice in World War One
- Carl Grundy, who lost his twin brother, fellow soldier Andrew, in the Troubles in Northern Ireland and is a tireless fundraiser for the NMA
- Jenny Green, who lost her RAF husband Bill shortly before the first Gulf War and has used her experience of personal tragedy to help hundreds of families cope after losing their loved ones
- Koren War veteran Frank Shorter, who now gives his time and energy as a volunteer at the NMA
“There are stories to tell behind every plot and monument, each of which tells a tale of heroism, of sadness, of a particular event or campaign or just a selfless devotion to duty. Hannah Hiles has written up five masterful accounts, each of which is uniquely thought-provoking.” NMA chief executive Charlie Bagot Jewitt
Some coverage of Life Stories
Central Tonight – Voices of Heroes
Tamworth Herald – Hannah’s book is memorial to five remarkable heroes
Hold the Front Page – Ex-journalist’s book tells memorial’s human tales
The Sentinel – Author recalls dead heroes
Derby Telegraph – Arboretum book is story of the fallen
Legion magazine – In Living Memory