A concert by classical guitarist David Cotter, and mezzo-soprano, Sophie Kidwell, took place in the Victorian Chapel on Saturday 15th April. “Voice and Guitar” was a musical trip around the world, with classical pieces from composers such as J S Bach and Henry Purcell, as well as more modern compositions by George Gershwin and Henry Mancini. The audience in the full Chapel thoroughly enjoyed the concert which helped to raise funds, not only for the Trust, but also for the Plymouth Deaf Children’s Society. In a mid-concert break the audience were also able to enjoy an excellent buffet provided by volunteers from the Trust.
The sponsored walk to raise £10,500 for the repair of one of the Cemetery roads took place in gloriously sunny weather on Saturday 8th April. The Trust wishes to thank all those who raised sponsorship, those who donated, and all helpers on the day. With all monies now in we are please to report that we have slightly exceeded our target, with £10,537.88 raised. The section of road from the Memorial Garden to Newcombe Corner is due to be repaired with fresh tarmac over two days, Monday 24th and Tuesday 25th April.
A service of remembrance was held in the Cemetery on Saturday 18th March for a Russian sailor, Petr Ogorelkov, who died in Plymouth 100 years ago. The service was organised by Rose Southworth whose father discovered and researched the grave when volunteering in the Cemetery in the nineteen sixties. Among those present were Igor Elkin, Russian Naval Attaché, Oliver Colville MP and Plymouth Lord Mayor, Pauline Murphy. The Royal British Legion, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Ford Park Cemetery Trust were also represented at the service, which was conducted by Father Gregory of the Orthodox Plymouth Churches. This was followed by a reception the Trust's Visitor Centre.
On Saturday 31st December there was the largest attendance yet at the annual service of remembrance for George Hickley VC. Royal British Legion standard bearers, members of the Royal Naval Association and the Lord Mayor, Councillor Pauline Murphy, joined relatives at the service in the Victorian Chapel which was led by Royal Naval Chaplain, Peter Warland. A wreath was then laid on the grave, after which there was a reception in the Cemetery's Visitor Centre.
Children from Pennycross Primary School, who were part of a group of MKC Heroes, (a national support group for children of servicemen) came to the Cemetery for a World War 1 walk. They heard stories of servicemen who had died in the Great War, and they laid a rose and a poppy on each of the graves visited. The visit was funded by the Living Memory Project of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
On Saturday 29th October, members of the Royal Artillery Association, Royal British Legion standard bearers and members of the Combined Cadet Force attended the annual service of remembrance for Captain Andrew Henry VC. The service was led by the Rev Peter Warland, and was followed by a reception in the Trust's Visitor Centre.
At the recent AGM of the Friends of Ford Park Cemetery Rod Pickles was elected as the new Chairman. He replaces Vivien Warne who has been elected to the Board of Trustees. Rod was Chairman previously from 2008 - 2010.
Our annual evening walk to observe the bats and moths of the Cemetery was a great success. The event, which was supported by members of the Devon Bat Group and the Devon Moth Group, drew fifty six people on Friday 2nd September. For many it was their first visit to Ford Park. Both pipistrelle and brown long-eared bats were observed around the Victorian Chapel, and moths such as Jersey tiger and green carpet were seen at the lights placed around the grounds. The cafe was staffed by volunteers throughout the evening, bringing in over seventy pounds for the Trust.
The Trust has always endeavoured to promote an active interest in both the Cemetery's history and landscape. We have a Children's Puzzle Trail, a Dictionary of Symbolism and a Find the Cross exploration around Ford Park's monuments. The latest in this series is a brand new Nature Quest, a fun way to find out about our plants and animals by collecting points as you spot the wildlife. You will find there is something to see whatever the season. All these publications are available from the Visitor Centre.
Our grounds staff have now moved into purpose-built accommodation in our machine store. This conversion includes a rest room, and toilet and shower facilities. It has been made possible thanks to a bequest and generous support from the Friends of Ford Park Cemetery.
From Monday 6th to Friday 10th June volunteers from the Trust took over catering at Harewood House, Plympton, serving teas, sandwiches and cakes. They also ran a bric a brac stall. Thanks to the hard work of Lindsay and her team a magnificent total of £544 was raised.
The Trust has created a shop within the Visitor Centre. Locally produced jams and chutneys, Plymouth tea and a variety of local interest and history books are among the items available. There is also a second-hand book section. All profits from the sale of these items help to support the Trust and its work in caring for Ford Park Cemetery.
The Trust has an on-going project to photograph all the headstone inscriptions in the Cemetery, and is looking for volunteers to join the team. Experience is not necessary as training will be given.
If you think you might be interested or would like more information please call the Cemetery Office on 01752 665442.
The Trust has just published a second Heritage Trail Booklet. This latest self-guided trail, which can be split into three sections, covers another forty two notable graves, including Jimmy Peters, who in 1906 became the first black rugby player to play for England, and Edward Dingle, the founder of E Dingle & Co (now House of Fraser) It can be purchased from the Visitor Centre or Cemetery Office, price £3.50.
Our Plymouth Blitz event on 27th March was attended by thirty four people, an excellent turn out considering the changeable weather. The walk around the Cemetery covered stories of those killed in the Blitz who are buried at the Cemetery, examples of bomb damage to headstones and a chance to visit the Victorian Chapel with its Civilian Memorial. This was followed by the opportunity to warm up in the Visitor Centre with tea, coffee, and home made cakes.
There was an emotional remembrance service to mark the 75th anniversary of the Plymouth Blitz held in the Cemetery's Victorian Chapel. It was led by the Anglican Bishop of Plymouth the Rt Rev Nick Mckinnel, together with Father Peter Coxe of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St Mary and St Boniface, the Rev Dave Martin of the Methodist Central Hall and Royal Naval Chaplain Rev Peter Warland. Among those in attendance were some of those who had lived through the Blitz in Plymouth, those who had family remembered on the Civilian Memorial and representatives of the emergency services. In 2009 the Trust embarked on a project to interview and record the first hand accounts of Blitz survivors. Moving excerpts from those recordings were read by volunteers during the Service. The ministers and congregation joined Trust volunteers afterwards for refreshments in the Visitor Centre.
A big thank you to staff from Interserve, the support services and construction company who gave time to volunteer in the Cemetery, helping us with grounds clearance. Their hard work during the course of just one day has made a tremendous difference to the area.
The Victorian Chapel hosted the presentation of the Legion d'honneur to Normandy Veterans by the Honorary Consul of France. The moving ceremony was followed by a reception in the Visitor Centre for the veterans and their families. The Trust is honoured to have been asked to be part of such an an occasion.
There has been a recent change in Board personnel. Our chairman for the past three years, John Boon, has for personal reasons, decided to step down as a trustee as from 31st December 2015, having served on the Board since July 2010. He is to continue volunteering for the Trust, leading walks, giving talks and managing the Visitor Centre. Our new chairman is John Clamp. John has been involved with Ford Park since before the Trust was formed, having attended the liquidator's meeting, and being a strong advocate of the formation of a charitable trust to run the Cemetery. He has served as a trustee throughout the Trust's existence. John has spent his life in the construction industry as a surveyor, project manager and property manager. He is keen that the Cemetery continues to build on the support of its members, volunteers, trustees and staff in order that it can continue to offer burial services for generations to come.
It has been a busy time at the Cemetery in the build up to festive season. On Saturday 28th November we held our Christmas Fayre, which was well supported and raised £705. The choir from Hyde Park Junior School joined us in the Victorian Chapel on Wednesday 2nd, for our annual Christmas Carol Service, led this year by Mother Elizabeth Burke from the Church of the Ascension in Crownhill. This was followed by refreshments in the Visitor Centre.
There was an Illuminated Christmas Village over the weekend of 5th and 6th December. This was very well attended, all who came to the Visitor Centre enjoying not only the cottages and churches of the Village, but also mulled wine, and mince pies and cream. On the Saturday we hosted our first ever wreath making workshop, and on Sunday the winners in our Grand Christmas raffle were announced. This year the raffle, organised by the Friends of Ford Park Cemetery, raised an impressive £856 for Trust funds.
On the evening of Friday 20th November in the Victorian Chapel, members of the Waterfront Writers, together with Literary Friends, gave a recital of specially composed poems about the Cemetery. The Plymouth Poet Laureate, Michael Sullivan was also in attendance, and there was a musical interlude with Grace and Keith Smith. The Chairman of the Trust, John Boon was presented with copies of all the composed poems which will be made available to the public in the Visitor Centre.
BBC Radio Devon Action Station volunteers and staff from City Council contractors Amey came into the Cemetery on Thursday 22nd October to help clear a section on the eastern boundary which had previously been kept as an area for wildlife. The Trust is most grateful to everyone who came along, some from as far away as Exeter and Taunton. The result of just one day's work is amazing.
There are now direction signs to the Cemetery in place at two busy Plymouth road junctions. We hope this will help visitors find us more easily. This has been possible thanks to support and encouragement from Councillor Steve Ricketts and Councillor Martin Leaves through the City Council's Living Streets Scheme. Our thanks also to staff at Council contractors, Amey. The Trust is most grateful for all the help received in realising this long-cherished ambition.
Our Heritage Open Days weekend was a success with around fifty people enjoying the walks and the chance to see the restored Chapel and Civilian Memorial. Many visitors were new to Ford Park which was great and gave us the opportunity to share our enthusiasm for Plymouth's most historic cemetery.
The restoration of the gate pillars at the Cemetery's lodge entrance has now been completed thanks to the work of the craftsmen from Williams and Burrows Heritage Repair. The difference between before and after is particularly striking in the pillar on the left of the two photographs. Information on the heritage work of Williams and Burrows can be found on their website www.williamsandburrows.co.uk
The evening event to view the bats and moths of the Cemetery, held on Friday 4th September, was a great success. The forty seven people who attended were rewarded with good sightings of bats hunting over the grounds, and lots of moth species, including Orange Swift, Ruby Tiger and Purple Bar.
For a full list of the moths seen click here.
Following the success of a similar partnership last year, we have again welcomed apprentices from Babcock International who are spending two weeks working in support of our grounds team. Among other tasks, they have been removing vegetation from walls and paths, which is helping to enhance the appearance of the Cemetery. We are most grateful to the apprentices for their hard work, to staff from City College who support the apprentices, and to Babcock International for their initiative.
There was a splendid turn out on Saturday 11th July for our annual Bug Hunt held in conjunction with Wild about Plymouth. Over seventy people, young and old, came along to search for mini beasts around the grounds, with experts from Buglife and Plymouth University on hand to help with identification. The cafe, which was open throughout the event, did a roaring trade with specially baked bug-themed cakes. Our thanks to everyone who helped to make it such a success.
Our rose bed, which is in a prominent position opposite the Visitor Centre, is looking superb. Both standard and bush roses are available for dedication. For details contact the Cemetery Office on 01752 665442 or just call in and see us.
The 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo was marked at the Cemetery by a service of remembrance at the grave of Capt Darell Jago. The service was attended by serving soldiers from the Royal Artillery, members of the Royal Artillery Association, Federation standards, members of the public and representatives of the Trust, and conducted jointly by Revs Peter Warland and Karl Freeman. Darell Jago was born in Penzance around 1796 and joined the Royal Artillery as a 2nd Lieutenant on 5th July 1813. He fought both at Quatre Bra and the main battle at Waterloo, was promoted to Captain in 1834 and died in Plymouth on 22nd December 1850. More information on Ford Park Cemetery's military heritage is available at the Cemetery Office and Visitor Centre.
Mentioned in our History of the Airmen Buried in Ford Park, News 23rd May, is Bernard Mowan whose Albermarle aircraft crashed in a field near Mill Farm, Black Bourton, Oxfordshire in August 1944. These recently obtained photographs show the cairn erected near the site in memory of all the airmen killed in that incident.
The Trust has a brand new publication, a Brief History of the Forty-nine Airmen Buried in Ford Park Cemetery. Written by Rod Pickles, one of the Trust's researchers, and illustrated with photographs, it is available to purchase now from the Cemetery Office or Visitor Centre, priced at £3.00.
As part of a visit to Plymouth on 22nd May, Carol Souter, the Chief Executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund, together with other senior HLF officers, and Plymouth City Council officials involved with the proposed History Centre came to Ford Park Cemetery. They wished to see at first hand a successfully completed HLF funded project, and were impressed, not only with the restored Victorian Chapel, and 1960s Chapel conversion to the Visitor Centre, but also with the Trust's continuing commitment to heritage and education.
The evening Murder, Mystery and Mayhem walk held on Sunday 3rd May was a brilliant success with an amazing one hundred and two people attending. Luckily our Heritage Team volunteers were there in numbers. Solar lights and lamps along the route lent a great atmosphere to the occasion, and a collection after the walk raised over £100 for the Trust. Thanks to everyone for their generosity and to the team for all their hard work.
A classical guitar concert by young musician David Cotter, held in the Victorian Chapel on 10th April was a great success. A full Chapel enjoyed a varied programme with pieces ranging from the traditional classical repertoire, to the Beatles. The concert, held in memory of David's brother Matthew, raised a total of £825 for Ford Park and the Plymouth Deaf Children's Society.
Older news can be found in the archive, here...