I read with interest your article in the online December Issue regarding Burngreave Cemetery. Although I do not live in the area, I have recently taken over ownership of the deeds of my family grave. For over 50 years since I was a small child, I have regularly visited the family grave, in the last 20 of those years, the cemetery has been deteriorating more and more. Whilst full burials are getting fewer the trend is moving over to the internment of ashes, which has applied to my family grave, with the last internment just over 12 months ago of my mums ashes. We still visit regularly and do our best to maintain the grave and its surrounding area. Over recent years we have noticed on the occasions when the grass has been mowed, more and more gravestones seem to be getting damaged in the process. Whilst I appreciate most of the graves are old and can be in a vulnerable state, dignity and respect of the internees last resting place needs to be of paramount importance and care needs to be taken around them.
The grass and weeds around the Scott Road side of the cemetery are often over knee high and we have to wade our way through to get to the graveside. It is so sad to pass graves on the way, whose headstones have been broken, as I can remember some of the people who lovingly tended the graves and who have now become the graves occupants, perhaps with no family left to care for the graves anymore. Many of the gravestones are damaged, clearly not just from falling over as a result of subsidence. The roads and pathways around the cemetery have fallen into disrepair, the surfaces have broken up and are difficult to negotiate by car.
Sheffield's history is reflected in the headstones of old cemeteries and it our duty to maintain this history for future generations, every headstone that is damaged is a piece of history lost.
It was our good fortune to meet John Duignan on one of our visits to the grave and it is only through meeting him that we heard of other people who had similar concerns to ours. It is not only people who live in the Burngreave area that have an interest in the cemetery as I myself live in Beighton and it should be the councils responsibility to contact grave owners with relevant news regarding Burngreave Cemetery.
Martin Green speaks in his letter of using people from the probation service to perform maintenance tasks, are they going to give care and respect to the graves when carrying out these duties? Do strimmers have to be used, could not old fashioned garden shears be the answer to cutting close to the graves?
I will be interested to know if the Bereavement Services have any thoughts on my comments.