Community responds to churchwarden’s clean-up appeal

Baildon churchwarden, Loraine Radcliffe, (pictured left, with Mick Devanny, of 269 Battalion 101 Regiment Royal Artillery). says she has been overwhelmed by the support and enthusiasm of volunteers who responded at the weekend to her call for help take part in a community clean-up of an overgrown graveyard.

(Picture courtesy of the Bradford Telegraph and Argus)

St John’s Parish Church, in Hallcliffe, used the local newspaper to appeal for people to roll their sleeves up to clean the graveyard which has become overgrown with ivy and bramble saplings.

With offers of help already made by the local 269 Battery Army Unit to send a dozen soldiers, and the Yorkshire Regiment’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel, Mark Yates behind the clean-up, Lorraine felt encouraged to put an appeal out in the Bradford Telegraph and Argus newspaper.

“It was a fantastic response”, said Loraine. “At its height we had fifty people there. Local residents came along, youngsters on probation came to help as part of their community service, and many individuals have offered to come back and carry on.”

The graveyard is about the size of two football pitches but has been overgrown since it was de-commissioned in 1951. Although there have been some cremations, the last burial was conducted there in the 1960s. The site also features the graves of four soldiers who fell during the Second World War.

There is still a lot to do says Loraine, who estimates that about a third of the large graveyard has been cleared and cleaned up so far.

Now she is planning to invite local people to ‘adopt a grave’ and take on responsibility for the upkeep of just one small area. “We had relations of people who had been buried in the graveyard taking part, but anyone could adopt a grave.”

“We want to be able to let people down there in safety and make it accessible. It is a key part of the heritage of the town. There are graves down there for everybody to see, but people can’t see them at the moment.

 “It is a lovely place and it is like being in a little wood, so it could be a nice place where people want to go.”

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