Following the public meetings in July and August and a site visit by a council officer the PCC of St Stephen’s has agreed to the work recommended to remove or prune unhealthy and dangerous trees and the legal process to allow this to take place is underway. All being well we hope this work will be completed by the end of the winter, changing the appearance of the churchyard and making it much more open and accessible. We can then start to think of a longer term management strategy.
The PCC was also in favour of the idea of encouraging wider involvement of the community in caring for and enjoying the churchyard, and we are currently exploring the best legal framework to enable this to happen. Our new organisation will also need a name – there was concern that the working title “Friends of St Stephen’s Churchyard” might cause confusion with the existing Friends of St Stephen’s. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any bright ideas for a good title for the group.
The PCC also welcomed the idea of an “adopt a grave” scheme under which individuals, families and groups could take responsibility for planting and managing one of the many graves no longer tended by families in ways which will enhance the beauty of the churchyard and also its biodiversity. Again there are procedural and organisational issues to be sorted out, but we hope that by early spring next year we will be able to launch the new organisation and an “adopt a grave” scheme. If this all goes well we plan a celebration on Rogation Sunday, May 17th, a traditional time when the church gives thanks for nature and prays for a good harvest.
Further updates will be circulated when there is more news, and we are applying for permission for a temporary noticeboard in the churchyard where information on plans for the churchyard can also be posted.