Volunteers allow graveyard to overgrow in bid to win award

Sonya Molden's memorial stone. Submitted.
Sonya Molden's memorial stone. Submitted.

Parts of a graveyard are being allowed to become overgrown by the volunteer group responsible for its maintenance so it can be in with a chance of winning a conservation award.

The news came to light after bereaved husband Graham Molden said the area of the cemetery where a memorial stone for his wife Sonya is placed was so untidy that he struggled to find it.

Grass in parts of the graveyard at All Saints Church in Easton-on-the-Hill is not going to be strimmed until June or July this year when a variety of species of wildflowers have seeded.

The Friends of All Saints Church wants to win the award which is provided by the Northamptonshire Churchyard Conservation Award Scheme and says the grass cannot be cut as it is protecting the wildflowers.

But the group admits it “overlooked” strimming the area where Sonya’s stone is placed and that it is not in an area which will be assessed by the award scheme.

Graham, who travels from Sheffield to visit the plot once a month said: “It is awful. I took my new partner down there the last time [he visited) and she couldn’t believe there was rabbit burrows. They need to sort it out - they cannot allow it to go back to nature.”

Tim Nicol, a committee member of the group, said of the area where Sonya’s stone is located: “It is a very small area that has been overlooked. It is not intended to be a manicured graveyard, it is a place of respect for everybody and it is maintained in a way for us to qualify for a conservation award scheme.

“Those of us who live in the village and visit the churchyard regularly have no issues with its appearance and I am not aware of any other complaints having been made.

“Relatives of those interred are welcome, indeed encouraged, to maintain the immediate area around their graves or memorials themselves.”

Tim explained he would now personally strim the area where Sonya’s plot is located and that he had been informed by the scheme that the graveyard has a good chance of winning the award.

He added that residents were informed of the reason the graveyard was not being strimmed via media outlets such as newsletters.