How an overgrown church graveyard in Pellon has been transformed by group of volunteers

An overgrown church graveyard has been transformed thanks to a group of volunteers in Pellon.

By Tom Scargill
Monday, 11th April 2022, 11:15 am

Twelve members of a bereavement support group have held regular clean-up meetings to help restore the Christ Church graveyard.

There are 2,226 graves in the churchyard, many of which had become overgrown with brambles and shrubs, making it difficult for many families wanting to visit a grave to gain access.

The project has been given a £500 grant from Calderdale Council's ward forum grants in North and East Halifax, which will enable the group to buy much-needed gardening equipment such as hedge trimmers and chain saws.

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The graveyard

One of the members, 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," said David.

"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.

Volunteers at the graveyard

"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 grandaughter, 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 Australia, 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.

"These first two weeks cleaning up the graveyard made us realise how important our work was. We had begun by thinking of the bereaved and turning this place into a memorial park. But now we reflected upon those who had sacrificed their lives, or taken action to save the lives of others.

Volunteers at the graveyard

"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.

"There is so much history waiting to be uncovered and discovered, and we want to make this available both online and at Christ Church."

If you would like to know more or to volunteer, then visit www.friendsofchristchurchpelloncemetery.com or phone David on 07776017195.