Jon Matthews from Northwood Cemetery shares this latest news. Ed
As the ambitious plan to create the Island’s first municipal Natural Burial Ground in Northwood Cemetery nears completion, the children of Lanesend Primary School sprung into action on Monday to provide a much needed carpet of colour to the newly landscaped area.
Restoring chapels to former Victorian glory
The Natural Burial Ground development forms part of a much bigger programme of works in the cemetery which will restore the chapels to their former Victorian glory.
The creation of a wonderful woodland burial area will provide rustic seating, railings and pathways, with a carpet of colour at the front. With the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, a total of £1.6 million will be spent on the site, with the project due to be completed by the summer of 2017.
Over 1,000 bulbs planted
Armed with over 1,000 bulbs to plant, the Friends of Northwood Cemetery, the voluntary organisation leading the project, desperately needed some help – with the pupils of Lanesend Primary School coming to their rescue.
Peter Almond, one of the trustees of the Friends’ group and a former chair of governors at the school said,
“The area at the rear of the cemetery has now been landscaped, but like any newly prepared burial ground it looks a little bare.
“The Natural Burial Ground will not open officially for another 12 months so we are planting bulbs and spring flowers now so that next year we have an amazing natural floral display within a woodland setting.”
Help from Groundsells
The landscape contractor for the project, Groundsells, is also lending a hand, providing the children with trowels, kneelers and expert advice.
Paul White from Groundsells said,
“Although the Friends’ group has a very dedicated team of volunteers it would have taken them a very long time to plant all these bulbs, so we are delighted to get the support of children to help out, providing them with a learning opportunity they will remember every time they visit the cemetery in future.”
A wonderfully natural and peaceful final resting place
A range of bulbs and spring flowers have been selected in-keeping with the natural surroundings and will completely cover the front part of the Natural Burial Ground with the aim of creating visual impact as visitors walk towards the rear of the cemetery.
Already the site is attracting a lot of interest with many people wishing to secure a burial plot in what will become a wonderfully natural and peaceful final resting place.
Sally Coppen, a teacher at Lanesend Primary School, who is also advising the project on aspects of its young people engagement programme, is excited about the way in which these kinds of community projects can get young people practically involved in heritage and conservation activities.
“Our children often visit the cemetery and it is a wonderful way of them not only to learn about the site heritage and its rare flora and fauna, but also to encourage them to see death as a natural part of life.
“Practical activities such as planting give the children a real experience of making a project happen and seeing the results. In future, when they visit the cemetery they will be able to see the fruits of their labour and also know that their work will have a real impact on people who are visiting the site to remember loved ones who have sadly passed away.”
More activities planned
With the overall project still 18 months away from completion, the Friends’ group are planning many more volunteer activities and are hoping that people of all ages will come forward to lend a hand.
Peter Almond said,
“The school children are setting a wonderful example for others to follow and we are hoping that local people and others schools will be inspired by what has been achieved so far and also come forward to get involved.”
Any individual or organisation wanting further information on how they can play a part in this grass roots project should contact: [email protected]