The Official opening of the Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Gateway, Hendon Park, 10th May 2024

Opening of the
Queen Elizabeth II
Commemoration Gateway



At 11.45 am on 10th May 2024, The Queen Elizabeth Commemoration Gateway was opened at the entrance to Hendon Park in Queen’s Road, Hendon NW4, close to the Holocaust Memorial garden.

The Commemoration Gateway, 14 years in the planning and dedicated to both Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the late Prince Philip, consists of two pierced aluminium panels, one showing a likeness of Her late Majesty with Prince Philip above some famous Royal palaces, whilst the other has representations of the Crown Jewels, trees and a fly-past of the Red Arrows.

The proceedings started with a speech by The Worshipful The Mayor of Barnet, Councillor Nagus Narenthira, after which the Representative Deputy Lieutenant Martin Russell MBE DL gave a most moving and enlightening speech before cutting the ribbon.

Those present included Mrs Brigid Russell, a principal donor, Mrs Jill Purdie, the sculptor Tim Ward with his wife, the Treasurer and Trustees of the project, Councillors and representatives of Barnet War Memorials Association and of other Heritage Barnet organisations.

The Mayor’s speech is here in full…

“Madam Mayor, Councillors, (Chief Executive), Ladies and Gentlemen

Thank you, Madam Mayor, for your kind and most appropriate words, carefully chosen and sensitively delivered.

Strange as it may seem, this pair of panels represent the culmination of an extraordinary effort by a large group of people over fourteen years.

For it was in the Mayoralty of Lisa Rutter that I was asked to head the effort to mark the then forthcoming Diamond Jubilee. A small working group was established to identify and arrange events around the Borough.

I looked back through history of similar celebrations, recalling the recent Golden Jubilee, when there was a fine parade of military vehicles in Mill Hill, and when Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh visited Copthall Stadium as part of the North London element of her celebrations, reviewing a huge number of chiefly youth organisations there. In the rain, I recall!

I noted Finchley’s commemoration of the Silver Jubilee of George V in 1935 when they constructed the waterfalls and garden at Henley’s Corner, and Finchley’s earlier commemoration of the only other Diamond Jubilee, of Queen Victoria, when Inky Stephens MP led a committee to acquire and develop land off Ballards Lane; land that we benefit from to this day and know as Victoria Park. I was horrified to read that it took such a man of such means and status seven years to complete this project, and my colleagues will recall I insisted that whatever we decided to do would not take seven years.

Planning of local events started with a memorable Civic Service in St Albans Church, Golders Green to mark the more sombre anniversary of the Accession. Notably this was multi-denominational and religiously inclusive, with non-conformist clergy and with Bishops of the Roman Catholic church as well as of the Church of England all playing their part.

They were aided by contributions from Jews, Jains, Hindus and from Moslems and Sikhs.

I believe some of the enhanced religious cooperation so pleasingly evident locally today stems from contacts established by faith leaders at that splendid service, held though it was, in snowy and cold conditions. I felt that putting two Bishops of different traditions together in the back of our car in a blizzard would produce dialogue if not a dividend!

Meanwhile planning was continuing full steam for the anniversary of the Coronation that June. The Diamond Jubilee Weekend 2012 was declared a double Bank Holiday, and alongside commitment to events in Central London, we arranged a full programme of events locally, with over ninety street parties, beacons lit in five separate locations in the Borough – new beacons commissioned for the purpose – more beacons than in any other area in the land!

The highest beacon of all was flown under a balloon from RAF Museum at Hendon, and of course, Mayor Brian Sharma’s Beacon at the Family Fun Day at Golders Hill Park – the beacon that failed to ignite – the electrics had become soaked in the downpour. Thank goodness for the foresight of the City Corporation staff there who had a backup, and although the maroons they fired may not have been the brightest, they were most probably the loudest beacons in the country that day.

After all the street parties were cleared away, and people resumed their work, there was a strong feeling that some permanent memorial should form a lasting tribute. In this I had great support from an enthusiastic Vice Chancellor at Middlesex University, whose Deputy came up with a design for a ceremonial gateway linking the area near the Fire Station and the University Building on The Burroughs. This was quite adventurous, and the architects envisaged creating a structure of sixty poles, one for each year of the Monarch’s reign, each pole of varying height, and serpentine in layout, each with a QR code to identify it with its donor, and with significant events of that particular year.

A charity was established, with a limited company to provide the right corporate structures. Tom Durkin, late of Barnet Council, and then of the North London Hospice, and of Jesus Hospital Alms-houses, Barnet, became our Treasurer, and Nitin Palekar Sabnis our put-upon Secretary and legal adviser. Jeff Lustig, recently the highly regarded Deputy Chief Executive of the Council, Rt Hon Theresa Villiers joined the late Flo Kaufmann as Trustees.

In spite of the determination of many, and the generosity of the few – Mill Hill School marking its bicentenary, Golders Green Crematorium, a personal donation in memory of the late Jack Purdie, whose widow, Jill is among us, a gift from my colleague Leslie Morgan OBE DL, adequate funding was not secured, and ideas had to be scaled down.

The departure of the Deputy Vice Chancellor, then the retirement of his boss, meant my powerbase in the welcoming University was reduced. A new VC arrived and professed himself supportive, and things moved forward slowly, but fundraising didn’t.

The late Air Commodore Brian Hughes OBE, a very good man, who was the last to command RAF Hendon, put his considerable shoulder behind the wheel, but still money only trickled in, albeit from many small donors who wanted to show their gratitude for the long service of The Queen.

Our Trustees began to show concern, and the ‘seven year’ target was passed, and so I began to bully the Chief Executive of Barnet Council John Hooton, who sensibly delegated responsibility to Cassie Bridger.

Anno Domini, and the intention to bring things to some form of fruition, caused me to push the Council harder. Then the Duke of Edinburgh died, and we marked his life and service by adding two birdcage structures and sensory beds of plants in Stephens House and Grounds outside the café. The death last year of Queen Elizabeth caused me to accelerate matters and Cassie Bridger leant on Richard Young, giving him the privilege of overseeing design and installation of this Queen Elizabeth Commemoration Gateway. And here appropriately in Queen’s Road, it has found its place. Designed and executed by Tim Ward; we are pleased to welcome him today with his wife.

I hope generations to come will understand the symbolism hereon. It was one of our earliest intentions that any installation would have a strong educational component, and the QR code here links to a website with more detailed explanation. The Commemorative Gateway adds to the heritage of Barnet, so close to the hearts of many present.

The instruments of state – orb and sceptre, instruments we have seen at this Coronation as tokens of the transition of temporal power and of the spiritual installation of the Monarch; profiles of the late Queen and of her husband Prince Philip, her ‘rock without whom she simply could not have carried out her responsibilities’. Profiles of some of the buildings with which she was associated, and in a nod to the Diamond Jubilee, a Fly-past by Red Arrows, all above the trees which became such a symbol of her subsequent Seventieth (Platinum) Jubilee, through The Queen’s Green Canopy, in which this Borough played its full part.

Madam Mayor, Ladies and Gentlemen, I pay a deep tribute to my fellow Trustees, living and departed, some of whom for thirteen years, have worked with me and shown such loyalty and commitment despite setbacks.

On their behalf, and with the greatest respect and love for our late Monarch and her husband, whose links with this Borough were so close, I pronounce the Queen Elizabeth Commemorative Gateway open.”



All images courtesy of Gerald Alterman and are Copyright of the BWMA.