Article date – 03 May 2019
The Friends of St Helens Cemetery is a group of people who give up their own time to keep the cemetery a place that visitors can reflect and pay their respects while also keeping its history alive.
Marlene Downey, treasurer of the group said: “The biography of the town lies in the cemetery. We host events in the crematorium chapel so people can see and enjoy the beauty of the inside of the building in an informal setting and not, as is usual, when attending a funeral.”
“The friends are involved in all things heritage and history in the cemetery and help to preserve and maintain it as well as doing new projects, bringing something extra in and providing a service for people who cannot get to the cemetery like delivering flowers or helping them to locate a grave.”
The group are helping to host an open day at the Rainford Road Cemetery and Crematorium on Saturday, May 11th as part of Dying Matters Awareness Week and National Cemeteries Week. Previous years brought huge crowds out with taster heritage walks, behind-the-scenes at the Crematorium tours and advice and information from a range of St Helens Council services and partners.
The chapel will also be open for people to look at the stunning Dalle de Verre windows designed by Pierre Fourmaintreaux and information about future projects to enhance visitors experience of visiting the cemetery.
And it is an opportunity to meet the people who dedicate their time in the friends group.
“People join our group for different reasons,” added Marlene. “They’re interested in heritage and they want to get involved in the local community. It’s about being involved in the community and this community covers the whole of the borough. You can provide a useful service, showcase the history and beauty of grounds and chapels on our heritage walks and other events and gain for themselves a satisfaction and immense pride for their contribution to preserving and maintaining this well-loved local landmark.
“We’re always looking for people to support us with the work that we do. We look for people to help us with fundraising because we can’t improve things without raising money.”
St Helens Council works with community organisations like the Friends of St Helens Cemetery as a way of supporting residents to look after the things that matter to them and help to build a better place and environment for everyone to enjoy.
To find out more about the Friends of St Helens Cemetery and how to support them visit www.friendsofsthelenscemetery.co.uk; for St Helens Council Bereavement Services visit www.sthelens.gov.uk or come along to the open day which runs from 10am to 2pm.