Memorial Restoration Workshops

Willesden Jewish Cemetery recently began a project to repair and clean headstones in one of their sections where some 200 babies and small children are laid to rest, many of them having died during the First World War and the Spanish Flu pandemic. Some of the graves are unnamed and have become neglected over the last 100 years.

On Sunday they held the first of their workshops to re-erect loose headstones, secure the tombstones and clean the memorials. This is an ongoing project with new workshop dates to be announced. The workshop was a full day event with 11 volunteers and 5 members of staff, and Willesden Jewish Cemetery provided all the necessary training, as well as lunch and refreshments.

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.

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.”

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.”

19 June 2024

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