Pebbles mark graves of war heroes in Wigan cemetery

The coronavirus pandemic did not stop a group of dedicated volunteers paying tribute to war heroes ahead of Remembrance Day.

Thursday, 5th November 2020, 7:00 am

Commemorations are being held in a different way this year, with most services and parades in the borough cancelled and a focus on services at Wigan and Leigh parish churches instead.

The Friends of Hindley Cemetery decided to find their own way to honour the people who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

They worked with Bowen Rocks Community Group and other volunteers to have pebbles painted with poppies.

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Michelle Strode, Alison Ratcliffe, Debbie Kehoe, Carol Ratcliffe and Kerry Garforth with decorated pebbles

They were then placed on the 31 war graves at the cemetery on Tuesday morning, with help from Sandy Davidson, a local historian and member of the friends group.

The graves commemorate men and women from the armed services who died during the first and second world wars.

Julie Bennett, chairman of the Friends of Hindley Cemetery, said: “I think the community has a lot of respect for people who have fallen and who have given their lives, as well as those who are still alive today who were in those wars and fought for their country. We wanted to show our appreciation by doing a little thing that means a lot to the community.”

She said it was “well received” by people who were glad that Remembrance Day was still being marked this year.

Lucy Dobbs

The act of remembrance was the latest project for the group, which was set up earlier this year in a bid to transform a disused chapel at the cemetery into a hub for people who are grieving and the wider community.

They have expressed an interest in taking on the building from Wigan Council in an asset transfer and are putting together a business plan.

The group is working towards forming a community interest company (CIC), which would be used to run the chapel if the transfer goes ahead.

Fund-raising is also continuing so refurbishment work can be done to the building.

Volunteers have already been busy working to improve the cemetery, recently teaming up with Biffa Waste to have three groups of people carrying out litter picks.

A new footpath has been created to improve access in an area of the cemetery where there are several graves for babies. It was made using eco-friendly materials, such as wood bark, with help from members of Fir Tree Fisheries CIC.

More information about the work being done by the Friends of Hindley Cemetery can be found on their Facebook page.

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