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Lottery winners dig deep to help create War memorial
5:35pm Tuesday 1st July 2014 in News
LOTTERY winners have returned to work - but only for two days - as they helped build a memorial to one of the Second World War's most successful missions.
Mark and Julie Weir, from Darlington, and Andy Garth, from Stockton, have a combined wealth of more than £3.5m after scooping the jackpot in 2008 and 2012 respectively.
They were part of a 30-strong team of millionaires who rolled their sleeves up to help build the tribute at the National Memorial Arboretum, in Staffordshire.
It will stand as a lasting memorial to the veterans of the 1940 Dunkirk beach evacuation and included sand imported from the beach in northern France.
Mr Garth, who won £1m when his numbers came up, said: "All the splinters and blisters have been worth it and the end result is suitably fitting to mark the experiences and bravery that those soldiers faced on the beaches of Dunkirk.”
Second World War veteran Norman Lewis, from Stoke, visited the millionaire workforce in action.
The 94-year-old fought at Dunkirk in 1940 and made the visit to the newly constructed memorial to oversee operations and thank the winners for their work.
He said: “It’s very emotional being here and seeing the project unfold.
"I think it’s a wonderful design and really emulates the beaches at Dunkirk.
"They have done a fantastic job in creating a lasting memorial to an important moment in British wartime history."
The memorial is being built ahead of the 75th year commemorations of the Dunkirk evacuation and is set within the grounds of the National Memorial Arboretum’s 150-acre site.
It's not the first time the National Memorial Arboretum has benefitted from Lottery winners’ support
In 2012, a £2.85m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund helped create a Remembrance learning centre at the site.
James Shallcross, assistant curator at the National Memorial Arboretum, said: “The arboretum recognises all those who have fallen fighting on behalf of us all.
"We are very grateful to our Lottery volunteers who have worked so hard."
The Dunkirk evacuation, code-named Operation Dynamo, was the removal of Allied soldiers from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk, in 1940.
The operation became necessary when large numbers of British, French, and Belgian troops were cut off and surrounded by the German army during the Battle of France.
Nearly 340,000 soldiers were brought back home in nine days via an assortment of 800 ships including commanded small civilian crafts, fishing boats and barges.