Yoko Ono's visit to Liverpool's Strawberry Field commemorated in stone

Major Allister Versfeld and Major Kathy Versfeld with Steps to Work Trainees and Graduates

It was 40 years ago today that Yoko Ono Lennon and son Sean Ono Lennon visited The Salvation Army’s Strawberry Field in Liverpool. And in a fitting tribute, a commemorative stone has been unveiled by Major Kathleen Versfeld, mission director at Strawberry Field at a special ceremony, together with a group of Steps to Work trainees.  

The commemorative stone has been placed at the beginning of Strawberry Field’s Path of Peace, which is located within the gardens where John Lennon sought sanctuary as a child. The granite tribute created by Anfield Marble includes the words: “Strawberry Field remembers with love and gratitude Yoko and Sean’s visit 40 years ago and their ongoing generosity. Give Peace a Chance.”


The commemorative stone

Close up of the commemorative stone

As a child Sean enjoyed listening to his father's stories of Strawberry Field which was the inspiration for The Beatles hit, Strawberry Fields Forever. And in 1984, four years after John Lennon's death Yoko brought Sean to visit the site which was so special to his late father, where they were accompanied by Major David Botting who was officer in charge at the time. Following their visit, Major David Botting kept in touch with Yoko Ono, who referred to him as 'the Captain' and visited her in New York.


Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon and David Botting at Strawberry Field, Liverpool

Yoko Ono and her son Sean Lennon visit Strawberry Field in Liverpool on 24th January 1984. They are pictured with David Botting

As part of the commemoration of this remarkable moment in Strawberry Field’s history, Major Botting has been sharing his fascinating recollections of the time, and the genuine connection that was built between Yoko and Sean, and Strawberry Field. Following the visit, according to David, Yoko Ono created the now famous Strawberry Fields in Central Park in an effort to recreate the sense of peace and calm she encountered on her visit.

Major David Botting was also a big advocate of providing local young people with vital opportunities to fulfil their full potential, and since his time at Strawberry Field 40 years ago, The Salvation Army continues this legacy through the Steps to Work programme. Running on the site today, the programme supports people with learning difficulties or other barriers to employment to achieve their goals of paid work. 

Major Kathleen Versfeld, mission director at Strawberry Field, said:  “We are proud to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Yoko and Sean’s visit to Strawberry Field and their generosity with an engraved stone on the Path of Peace in the gardens which meant so much to John Lennon. The success of The Salvation Army’s support for young people at Strawberry Field today is a continuation of Major David Botting’s work here at that time and it is a pleasure to reflect on this legacy.”

Last year, a state-of-the-art bandstand based upon the drum featured on the iconic album cover, Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band was installed at Strawberry Field and features a display of artwork painted by renowned pop artist James Wilkinson. In addition, the floor has a black and white mosaic similar to the John Lennon Imagine memorial laid in Strawberry Fields, Central Park, New York. The mosaic is made from more than 390,000 pieces of marble imported from the USA and laid by local father and son team, Eye of the Tiler.


The bandstand

The bandstand was gifted by Cliff Cooper, CEO of Orange Amplification and is one of the most technologically advanced bandstands in the world.