Volunteers restore children’s headstones at Willesden Jewish Cemetery

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Volunteers restore children’s headstones at Willesden Jewish Cemetery

Volunteers came together to secure 100-year old memorials, many of which are unnamed

Willesden Jewish Cemetery, Sunday 16th June 2024
Willesden Jewish Cemetery, Sunday 16th June 2024

Willesden Jewish Cemetery in London has held the first in a series of workshops welcoming volunteers to repair and clean headstones of 200 babies and small children, many of them having died during the First World War and the Spanish Flu pandemic.

The full day event on Sunday 16th June saw 11 volunteers and 5 members of staff re-erecting loose headstones, securing the tombstones and cleaning the memorials.

Some of the graves are unnamed and have become neglected over the last 100 years.

Attendees were split into groups, and each group was assigned a task, from gardening, stone masonry, laying gravel and cleaning up. The volunteers re-erected fallen monuments, straightened headstones and surrounds, cleaned up the area, and laid gravel to neaten it up.

Willesden Jewish Cemetery, Sunday 16th June 2024

Volunteer Arlene Miller said: “Thank you for allowing me to be involved in this wonderful programme. It is an extremely selfless act – one that gives so much, as well as the giver gaining even more.”

Fellow volunteer Leo Howard said: “I was very proud to take part in this task to help preserve memories that are over 100 years old. It is always very important to volunteer, particularly for a task like this, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Willesden Jewish Cemetery, Sunday 16th June 2024

Miriam Marson, community engagement manager and head of heritage at the United Synagogue, who was one of the organisers of the project, said: “This was a really successful and emotional beginning to the project. All of the volunteers expressed interest in returning for future workshops, and it gave everyone a real sense of community and achievement.”

This is an ongoing project with new workshop dates to be announced. To find out more, email heritage@theus.org.uk.

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