The Campaign team are busier than ever and the workload is ever increasingly complex as different areas of activities interact, deadlines loom and expectations rise.
Fundraising has been an incredible success with donations being received from across the UK. Although the majority of donations have been made by members of the Chinese community, not exclusively so. Donations large and small have been received from ordinary folks who have been moved by the story of the Chinese Labour Corps, and indeed, it has always been our belief that people of good conscience, regardless of their ethnic, cultural, religious or socio-economic background, will recognise as a just cause, remembering the Chinese labour units of the Great War. This is borne out in the donations received by people in all walks of life, from business men to University students, school pupils to artists, from women’s groups, community centres, cultural groups, academics, musicians, medical practitioners, political groups, martial arts schools… the list goes on. Individual donations have ranged from £5000 to £1. Businesses have also donated, and many community groups have raised funds locally and forwarded them to the Campaign. It has been an incredibly humbling experience. Our commitment is to acknowledge each donor where their name has been given to us – from the largest down to the £1 donations. We know many who can ill afford to make any donation still do so, and as such, the size of the donation does not determine the gratitude we feel, rather all donations are equally cherished.
What the funds enable is for us to deliver the memorial. But that is a complex task in itself. The final touches are being put to the planning application that will be submitted to Newham Council immediately after the Easter holidays. But to get to this point has required significant time and effort. Final designs have had to be agreed, drawings compiled, technical information on the way the memorial is constructed and assembled explained, calculations relating to weight, load bearings and required foundations made. But this is just the start. The memorial will sit in a square and we need to present the landscaping, the spatial plan, plants, lighting, seating and so on. In all this we are tremendously indebted to ABP London Albert Docks who continue to be our stauchest supporters, and we share a common determination to do all we can to make the Memorial Huabiao the best it can be.
Whilst all that is going on, the procurement process takes on a life of it’s own. Our design brief is for the craftmanship employed in carving the Huabiao to be of the very highest standard. That starts with securing the very best white marble, and includes the large block of marble that will be used for the main column being specially quarried. Finding a company who understand the requirements has taken some time. From drawings a 1m high clay model of the main column of the Huabiao is being made. This will ensure that all of the elements of the columns work in the round, and will give the master stonemasons a clear and unambiguous design brief. We expect to sign the contract for the Huabiao’s production towards the end of April, at which time we will be announcing our Strategic Suppliers who will be making it. It’s a company with whom we have been in discussions for some time, and with whom trust has been developed – critical when what we are asking them to produce is so much more that the sum of its parts.
This entry is called a 360 degree update, but it’s probably a 180 or 270 degree update, we could continue telling you of the work that has already started for the unveiling ceremony – so much more complex than we had ever thought it would be. Or how we are in the process of establishing a legacy company to continue the work started by the Ensuring We Remember Campaign – which will cease to exist once the memorial is unveiled. These can, perhaps, wait for another time to be explained. Sometimes we fall a little silent, but with this entry we hope you’ll have a better understanding of just why.