Volunteers celebrate job well done clearing jungle at cemetery in Skegness

Volunteers who were grassed off by the overgrown state of a cemetery in Skegness are celebrating a job well done.

Volunteers clearing St Clements Churchyard in Skegness. Photo: Barry Robinson.
Volunteers clearing St Clements Churchyard in Skegness. Photo: Barry Robinson.

Around 35 volunteers launched a week of action at St Clements Churchyard by cutting back the grass that had grown so tall it was covering the gravestones.

"I have to admit it was emotional afterwards when we looked what had been achieved,” said Coun Ady Findley, who along with Coun Richard Cunnington had campained to get the grass cut.

The problem had resulted from a decision by the Parochial Church Council to let the cemetery turn to God’s Acre’ because the church could no longer afford to pay Skegness Town Council to cut it.

What a difference a day makes! St Clements Churchyard after the tremendous efforts of volunteers. Photo: Barry Robinson.

However, its unkempt state caused distress for families attempting to visit graves and complaints received by Coun Cunnington were raised by him in November last year in a motion to Skegness Town Council.

Two members of the public – Pamela Ellis and Julie Gray- also went along to a meeting in January to complain about not only St Clements but the old cemetery at St Mary’s Churchyard in Winthorpe.

They launched a petition, St Mary's and St Clement's Churchyards Grass Cutting Campaign, on change.org, which attracted more than 200 signatures.

"We looked at two options – for the town council to come up with a solution or to explore using volunteers,” explained Coun Cunnington.

"Unfortunately the council has been unable to come up with a solution.”

The idea of a community effort was approved by the Rector, the Rev Richard Holden.

Mr Holden explained to our newspaper: “The Parochial Church Council decided to allow the churchyard to return to a more natural state and to become ‘God's Acre’, which is a more eco friendly way of looking after the churchyards.

“If anybody would like to volunteer to help maintain the churchyards and keep the bin area clear we would be interested in having a conversation."

Exploring support for a community effort, Coun Ady Findley appealed on social media for helpers and attracted more than 40 volunteers.

Couns Cunnington, Mark Dannatt and Danny Brookes, who are also district councillors, applied to use some of their designated budget to buy equipment and cover costs and Chandlers (Farm Equipment) Ltd supported them by offering discounts.

Following the first cut last Sunday and the efforts of volunteers who continued to cut the grass during the week, Coun Findley said he and Coun Cunnington had been overwhelmed by the response to their appeal.

“We were humbled by the turnout on the first day and how people kept coming back during the week to continue the work,” said Coun Findley.

"One old boy in his 70s came back every day to help – it was incredible.

"We’d like to thank everyone who supported us and helped in any way.”

Volunteers are to do more of the same at the old part of St Mary’s Churchyard not cut by the council on Sunday, July 10, starting at 9am.

Refreshments are being provided by the Charnwood Tavern, where volunteers are welcome to use the toilets. To get involved call Coun Cunnington on 07731805344.