Clearing and tidying work is left to volunteers

I FEEL I have to respond to the letter in last week’s paper regarding the “Graveyard Jungle.”

I have no connection with Heptonstall Churchyard although I do have some experience with other churchyards in the district.

It is not generally realised that the local church does not get any income to maintain the churchyard and relies on the weekly collection from the churchgoers; this has to go a long way with many calls upon it for general parish work and the upkeep of old, usually listed, buildings. It is therefore necessary to rely, in many cases, on local volunteers.

We all know what a terrible summer it has been, and grass cutting has been impossible for weeks on end, please be patient, it will get done when the conditions are dry and the volunteers available. The tending of individual graves is the responsibility of the family, many who rarely or never visit, but leave the work to these unpaid workers.

Your local churchyard does not have the luxury of a team of council workers as do municipal cemeteries.

In some churchyards areas are deliberately left uncut to encourage wild life and rare wild flowers, usually in the oldest part that gets few visitors. Health and safety is taken very seriously, but the checking and testing of the headstones is a sensitive area, it is carried out on a routine basis in every Anglican churchyard and if a stone is found to be unsafe it is lowered to the ground, and efforts are made to contact the relevant family.

Visitors could go a long way to help, take your old flowers and wreaths away with you, don’t throw them in a corner, it is probably someone else’s grave. Don’t leave old jam jars and milk bottles about, they are a real danger to the person cutting the grass, and please clean up after you have walked your dog.

If you feel strongly enough about the state of your local churchyard, why not join the other volunteers? You would be made most welcome.

Derek Underwood, Todmorden.