Cemetery Wardens now trained and ready…

Due to popular demand The Footprint Trust’s Cemetery Warden scheme held its second wave of training last Saturday (27th Aug 2011) at the historic All Saints Church in Freshwater. 14 keen local people were trained as volunteer Wardens to join the 17 trained last year. The project, which covers the whole Island, has been made possible thanks to support from Heritage Lottery funded West Wight Landscape Partnership.

Cemetery Wardens have an interest in nature conservation, the landscape, heritage and the community. The Wardens recruit local people to assist them in their work of conserving and sharing the heritage of these important open spaces. This scheme covers all burial grounds, including municipal cemeteries and churchyards, subject to the owner’s permission.

Ray Harrington-Vail of the Trust said..

‘Churchyards and cemeteries are often one of the last refuges for rare wildflowers and lichens and contain fine examples of architecture. They can hold they key to family and social history.’

‘They must be cared for in a sympathetic way which means managing with wildlife in mind, whilst being mindful that it is a place of remembrance… ‘

As part of the training Wardens were given guidance on the dangers of over-enthusiastic clearance which can damage memorials and destroy rare and interesting features.

One concern is the cleaning of gravestones with chemicals, which can eat away at the delicate stonework. Another is removing ivy which if not done correctly can damage the stone and remove the inscription.

Said Ray Harrington-Vail.

The Wardens were informed about the history of modern burial, nature conservation management, recording and indexing of graves, and how to raise funds and recruit local people. They will be given ongoing support from The Footprint Trust. Anyone else wishing to assist can contact the Trust on 82-22-82 or email ray@footprint-trust.co.uk Leaflets explaining the scheme can be found in local libraries.

Those present were taken on a guided walk and talk by Richard Grogan from the local Wildlife Trust. The County Archivist Richard Smout shared an insight into the resources available from the County Record Office. The Footprint Trust thanked West Wight Landscape Partnership and Isle of Wight Council staff for their support particularly the County Archivist, County Ecologist, Bereavement Services and Head of Parks of Countryside – all of which has given valuable advice and support to the project.

Note to Editors

The West Wight Landscape Partnership is a three year programme of projects that are helping to conserve and enhance the important habitats of the Isle of Wight’s western area and encourage people to explore and celebrate its rich culture and heritage. It is funded primarily by the Heritage Lottery Fund with smaller contributions from a range of local organisations.

Some of the burial grounds that now have Cemetery Wardens…

All Saints, Freshwater
Christchurch, Totland
St Swithins Thorley
St David’s East Cowes
St Mary’s Cowes
Binstead Cemetery
Whippingham St Mildreds
St Blasius, Shanklin
Wellow Baptist Church

Footprint Trust 01983 822282