Faye Brant-Key at Staffordshire’s National Memorial Arboretum on working with a variety of groups, the different seasons and 2024 events. 

Faye Brant-Key, who looks after groups, at the National Memorial Arboretum with a colleague touching one of the memorials

Faye (left), a finalist for the 2023 Excellence Award, loves the variety of groups that visit the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

How did it feel to be nominated for The Excellence Award?

I was shocked and really proud. It means so much to know that we’re getting it right for groups. I really appreciated being nominated but it’s such a team effort. I couldn’t do what I do without the rest of the team, right through from the welcome team and guides to the food services and grounds teams. They all do a fantastic job. Being a finalist for The Excellence Award felt like a reflection on the whole team.

What type of groups do you have visiting the National Memorial Arboretum?  

GLT Awards 2022: Best UK Attraction - National Memorial Arboretum

Faye Brant-Key.

We have everything from gardening and horticultural groups who want to come and look at the trees, planting and wildlife all the way through to WI groups and Townswomen’s Guilds. Then we have groups of veterans with connections to a particular service of conflict and those who have no connection and are looking for a great day out. 

We have such a wide range of groups so we speak to them about what they want to get out of a visit and then personalise it to help them make the most of their time with us.

“Being out on site you can see what the National Memorial Arboretum means to people and why we do what we do.” 

We definitely found that post-Covid, people really appreciate being outdoors and within the natural landscape a lot more. Across the National Memorial Arboretum’s 150 acres there’s plenty of open space and greenery. 

We’re very heavy on our symbolism within the memorials and people find that interesting. We’re a living memorial so we are an uplifting place to be able to remember and we’ve also got a wide range of activities and events which appeal to all.

The National Memorial Arboretum team with their Group Leisure & Travel Award for Best UK Destination.

The National Memorial Memorial Arboretum was crowned Best UK Attraction at the Group Leisure & Travel Awards 2023 - Faye (front right) celebrates with the whole team. 

Is there anything you’ve changed as a result of any feedback from groups?

We get a lot of very good feedback which is lovely because we want our visitors’ experience to be the best it possibly can and we’ll always look at ways to improve.

Some years ago I created a bespoke package for Remembrance Sunday because I found that coach groups were arriving and then having to join the general public for the service. It means they have access to the Aspects building, which is where we look after our groups, and we put lunch on for them as well as showing the service on the big screens if they’d prefer to watch the service indoors. 

What’s really important for the group visitor experience? 

The biggest thing is that it’s about the whole team. I have those preliminary conversations with the groups but the experience is about the whole process, from making the enquiry to when the groups leave. We meet and greet every single coach and they’re provided with a welcome folder. We’ve then got a point of contact for each activity throughout the day. It’s about showing each group how important they are. 

Faye Brant-Key with colleagues at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire

There are more than 400 memorials across the site which offer something for everybody to experience on their visit to the Arboretum. 

What’s your favourite part of the Arboretum?

It’s the fact that we could have lots of things going on at the site, different events and dedications, but you can always find somewhere peaceful. We’ve got so many memorials too, we’re not just military focused, there are many civilian memorials so we appeal to a range of people. Being out on site you can see what the National Memorial Arboretum means to people and why we do what we do. 

“Being a finalist for The Excellence Award felt like a reflection on the whole team.”

What’s your favourite time of year there?

It’s really hard to pick because people would think the summer. In the spring you’ve got all the bulbs and the colour; in the summer everything looks pristine and there’s a lovely atmosphere and in the autumn we have a lot of groups who come for the autumn colour but then winter which is our quieter period, we’ve had some amazing frosts when the site looks so beautiful. One of my favourite things is how it changes through the seasons.

Can you tell us anything that’s in the pipeline for 2024?

We’ve now released our Christmas 2024 dates. We’ll also be doing our Remembrance Sunday packages and we are looking at other things to put in for next year. We have also released our 2024/25 everyday group packages.

Congratulations to the other finalists of the 2023 Excellence Award who were: Jackie Cook, Success Tours, Sophie Dart, Nimax Theatres and Daniel Pocock, Potters Resorts (the winner). The Excellence Award is part of the Group Leisure & Travel Awards.

You can find out more about it and read about the other finalists at groupleisureandtravel.com/excellence