Overgrown churchyard restored and ready for Easter visitors

Chainsaw-wielding members of a bereavement support group have carried out a massive clean-up to help restore Christ Church Pellon’s graveyard.

Bales of brambles and overgrown shrubs had covered many of the 2,226 graves, making it difficult for visiting folk to gain access as shown by "before and after" inages of the site.

But then, the determined group bought chainsaws and hedge trimmers, thanks to a £500 grant from Calderdale Council – and set to work in earnest.

Volunteer David Ramanauskas, a civil funeral celebrant, said: "We wanted to do more than just provide easy access to the graves and keep the place looking tidy.”

"We wanted to create a memorial park for the community of Pellon, Halifax and beyond. A place where the bereaved can find a beautiful and sacred place to remember and honour their loved ones.

"Also, the church, cemetery grounds and residents are a valuable part of our local history.

"They are important to both those who attend church and those who do not attend church. They can be a place for quiet spiritual reflection, a place where we can honour and remember our loved ones, learn about the lives of our ancestors and perhaps reflect upon our own spiritual path through life.

"So the decision was made to form a group of volunteers from the church and community to help with the transformation process. We set up a Facebook Page and website to inform the community what we are doing and the progress we are making.

"We started on Saturday, February 5 and on that first day a couple visited from Wakefield to find the grave of their grandmother Maude Fisher. The team found the grave, and then cut a pathway through the brambles, and cut thick brambles that had overgrown the grave. We discovered from Maude’s granddaughter, that Maude had been awarded an OBE for gallantry in 1917 and her photograph is in the Imperial War Museum in London.

"The following week we were contacted by a lady in Queensbury, whose grandfather John Harrington was buried in 1914 and received a military funeral.

“The team found the grave and again removed the thick brambles and shrubs and cleaned the grave. “We then laid a wreath and said prayers for this war hero and his family.

"There must be many more residents of the graves whose lives, work and deeds deserve a resting place fit for heroes.

"We welcome volunteers to come and join us on a Saturday morning, and welcome visitors. We also welcome anyone with interesting information on any of our residents, and those who would like to help us do research.”

If you would like to know more or to volunteer, then visit www.friendsofchristchurchpelloncemetery.com or phone David on 07776 017195.

A version of this article first appeared in the Halifax Courier.

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