Undercliffe Cemetery Charity: Overview of Year Ending December 2019
As those of you who are members of the charity will know, due to Covid, we have been unable to hold our AGM this September to report back on progress in 2019. It has been decided, therefore, to provide this summary so that our supporters are aware of the tremendous efforts of volunteers in different capacities throughout 2019, and the positive impact that this has had on different areas of cemetery ‘life’.
Charity Structure: The 12 directors of the charitable company are its trustees and serve in a voluntary capacity, receiving no remuneration. Our Chairman is Allan Hillary, and our Deputy Chairman is John Jackson. The work of the Charity is conducted through Sub-committees: The Cemetery Management Sub-committee, Operations Sub-committee, Education Sub-committee, and Research and Media Sub-committee. We said goodbye to one of our longest-serving Trustees , Margaret Bromley, in December 2019. Fellow Trustees and volunteers thank her for decades of loyal support and wish her well for the future.
Burials: At the beginning of the year, the Charity appointed Andrew Barker to the new role of Business Manager and Registrar. Andrew manages the promotion and co-ordination of burials at the cemetery: 6 new plots were sold, and 22 interments took place. The Operations Sub-committee worked with the Registrar and our representative from Bradford Council Bereavement Services to review burial policies and charges, promote the availability of plots to funeral directors in the region, and consider new approaches being introduced into the sector.
Maintenance Volunteers: The fabric of the 26 acre Grade 11* listed site continues to be maintained and upgraded by out wonderful maintenance volunteers led by Stewart Field and Chris Haxby. An impressive 2,610 hours were notched up by the team, an increase of 300 hours on the previous year. In addition to mowing and strimming the grass during the growing season, they treated five sections of the cemetery with herbicide to counter Japanese knotweed, tended 134 war graves on behalf of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, fulfilled 19 contracts for the maintenance of family graves and uncovered and refurbished new areas.
Tours, Events, Membership and Newsletter: 2019 saw an ambitious programme of events with regular tours and talks organised by the Education Sub-committee. The tours included: Military Heroes, Artists and Innovators, Cudworth’s Bradford and The Bradford Worthies. August saw the Cemetery Open Day/Family History Day with a new tour focusing on flora and fauna led by local expert, John Dallas. Bespoke tours and talks were provided both at the cemetery and as ‘outreach’ for individuals and groups including Bingley Five Rise Locks WI, Heaton Family History Group, Bradford Photography Club, Bradford Retirees’ Group, Bradford Family History Society, Saltaire History Society, and Bradford Oddfellows. In addition, there was a Bradford Cathedral memorial rededication event in August, and our Service of Remembrance in November, which involved many representatives from local organisations and schools. Events provided an opportunity to extend our membership, with Deborah Stirling signing up many of the 55 new members. We are grateful to Tim Hardy who designed a series of beautiful posters to advertise these events. A new Undercliffe Cemetery Charity Newsletter was introduced by Andy Tyne at the beginning of the year to keep our members up-to-date with events and news items.
Research and Media Sub-committee: The Research group led by Steve Lightfoot, with members both near and far, provided the material for an exciting range of new tours in 2019, and significantly expanded the range of profiles on the cemetery website. The QR codes developed by Steve and installed by the maintenance team, have enabled those with smart phones to conduct their own self-guided tours. A booklet about the Bronte nurse maid buried at Undercliffe, Nancy de Garrs, was published and has sold well, raising funds to help with the refurbishment of her grave. Marjorie Hopkinson has provided a much-appreciated research service for those trying to find family graves, or seeking information about individuals buried at Undercliffe, averaging 6 enquiries per week. The website underwent a revamp via our IT specialist, making it easier to navigate, and he has also expanded our reach through the social media platforms of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, with the number of followers increasing dramatically by the end of 2019.
Café: Visitors and volunteers alike have appreciated the excellent refreshments provided by Ann Hillary and Barbara Ramsden throughout the year. The café has been an important contributor to fund-raising at events, but also a great support to the maintenance volunteers who have enjoyed bi-monthly lunches, including a special Christmas lunch, in acknowledgement of the work they do in all weathers to keep our 26 acre site looking so good. Thanks also to Kath Field who has kept the Lodge as a clean and welcoming space for all of us to use.
Finances and Resources: 2019 was a positive year financially, enabling the charity to continue to provide the equipment and fuel needed to restore and maintain an attractive and accessible site for everyone to use and enjoy. Our appreciation goes to Bradford Council for its on-going financial and practical support, and the expertise of those who serve on our cemetery committees. We are also grateful to local businesses who support us, for example Paul Adcock of ALM Plastics in Knaresborough who has so generously continued to supply us with strimmer line, and Thomas Crompton Demolition and Ground Clearance, Bradford, for supplying materials for ground improvement schemes and for landscaping and turfing an area of P section. Appreciation also goes to our many supporters who attend events, follow us on social media and via the website, and who are helping to keep the future bright for Undercliffe Cemetery. If you are not already a member, or would like to volunteer to help, for example with events, research or maintenance, we would love to hear from you. Please get in touch!
Jacqui Ambler, Undercliffe Cemetery Charity Trustee, October 2020.