Bill Redston, who took part in the D-Day invasion of France and also served in Burma during the Second World War, has raised over £2,000 for conservation charity Rainforest Trust UK through his JustGiving fundraising campaign and donations from neighbours, friends and family.
The 96-year-old, who has lived in Wolverhampton for over 60 years and celebrates his 97th birthday next month, walked the length of the arboretum for three hours during his recent tree-hug.
He said: “We know that climate change is the biggest threat facing our planet, and I wanted to play my part in making the future safer for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren by raising money for Rainforest Trust UK.
"Saving rainforests is one of the most effective ways to fight climate change, and hugging trees seems a great way to show how important they are for the planet and future generations."
Bill was an officer on a Royal Navy gunboat that supported the troops who landed on Utah beach during D-Day, and he chose the National Memorial Arboretum for his fundraising event as the place holds "very special memories" for him.
He worked there as a volunteer in the Arboretum’s early days, and fifteen years ago helped establish a permanent memorial for Royal Navy Coastal Forces personnel lost during the war.
In June of this year he received the Legion D’Honneur from the French Defence attaché at the 77th anniversary of D-Day at the Arboretum, and met Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prince Charles there during the 75th anniversary of VJ Day last year.
The National Memorial Arboretum, which is home to nearly 400 memorials, has recently celebrated its 20th anniversary and hosts over 300,000 visitors a year. As well as being the country's biggest memorial location it is also a living landscape, with 150 acres of green space and over 125,000 trees planted.
Bill added: “While the Arboretum is rightly famous as a special place to remember all those who have died in war and conflict, it is also a beautiful natural space with so many wonderful trees, which absorb CO2 and help to protect our climate.
"I therefore felt that it was the perfect place to do my tree-hugging, as it connects the sacrifice of the past to our hopes for the future in such a meaningful way."
Bill's son, Christopher, is the Executive Director of Rainforest Trust UK, a British conservation charity that places threatened tropical rainforests under permanent protection.
Chris said: “I'm so proud of my Dad.
"Tropical deforestation causes about 15 per cent of all net global carbon emissions, which is the same as every bus, train, car, plane, ship and truck on the planet combined.
"Rainforests are currently being destroyed at a rate of about 70,000 acres a day, mainly through deliberate burning and clearing for cattle ranches, soy plantations and palm oil.
"These vital areas not only stores hundreds of billions of tonnes of carbon, helping to protect our planet from further climate change, but also provide vital habitat for thousands of endangered species.
"The money my father has raised will protect hundreds of acres of rainforest - he is true conservation hero.”
To support Bill's Hug 100 Trees campaign with a donation visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Bill-Redston. Every donation will also be doubled by a supporter of Rainforest Trust UK.
To find out more about Rainforest Trust UK's Hug 100 Trees campaign, visit www.rainforesttrust.org/hug100trees.