Earlier in June a volunteer from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) on their ‘Eyes On Hands On’ project, contacted St Helen’s to ask if they could clean the headstone to Gunner A.H. Freeman in our churchyard. As a result of a recent inspection, it had been identified that the headstone required some attention as it is situated under a fir tree and was heavily stained.
Each volunteer is allocated a number of cemeteries and graveyards in their local area, and is responsible for monitoring the condition of the CWGC headstone or private memorials in those locations (Eyes On), and when appropriate performing simple cleaning and tidying activities around the headstones (Hands On).
The volunteer will do ‘basic’ cleaning and tidying. Anything more extensive, such as repairs or replacement of headstones; re-engraving etc., is done by the full-time employees of the CWGC. It is impressed upon the volunteers that these are old items, over 100 years old in many cases, so will not look ‘like new’. Replacement headstones tend only to be provided when a headstone is damaged beyond repair or the name of the casualty is illegible.
The ‘Hands On’ aspect of the project has only recently commenced because of COVID restrictions, with Hertfordshire being the first county to participate.
As you can see from the photos, the headstone looks considerably better than it did and we extend our thanks to the volunteers who have done such a careful and considered job.
For further information on the work of the CWGC please go to their website :