Thursday Morning Working Party at the Cemetery (Community Service, Exercise, Friendship, Cake)
by Sue McGrath
Looking around for a retirement hobby in 2014, I started helping with the small Working Party that meets at the Cemetery Chapel every Thursday morning from 9 until 12.30. I enjoy it immensely and have met lots of lovely friends – all with a great love for the site, and all with different skills to offer. On a typical fine day I might be out with my camera photographing birds, gravestones, greenery etc., or with my litter picker and rubbish bag keeping the place tidy while having a good healthy hillside walk, taking in the lovely views and chatting with a friend.
The views, the beautiful and varied tree collection, the flowering shrubs and the wild flowers are lovely at every season and it’s a joy to listen to the birdsong. I’ve learnt loads about wildflowers, butterflies and tree types in the time I’ve spent there. In the spring and summer there are lots of gardening tasks – keeping ivy in check, pruning overgrown bushes, hedge clipping etc. and of course loads of leaves to tidy and bulbs to plant in the autumn (while enjoying picking the blackberries and crab apples).
When the weather’s bad, or too chilly, I stay indoors and keep warm and busy cleaning the chapels and meeting room – somehow it’s always more enjoyable than doing one’s own housework! Other people are around sharing the research they have done on various historical topics, preparing publicity for our programme of talks, and doing various minor handyman tasks which arise.
We stop at 11 for tea, coffee and biscuits or cakes – obviously our favourite time of the morning. It’s a nice opportunity to share things we’ve learned, borrow books, and have a natter.
We’re a very friendly and inclusive group, and if any of the above activities appeal to you please drop by and join us. Stout shoes are required for outdoors, but we can provide everything else needed for gardening (gloves, tools etc.)
It’s a super place to spend time – moderately busy with all sorts of visitors such as dog walkers, Nordic walkers, bird spotters and of course people visiting (or searching for) their family graves. We are occasionally able to help people find a family grave for the first time, and that is especially rewarding.
We get lots of help and support from the cemetery workmen, and also the staff at Norse Road, whose official business in Foster Hill Road curiously often brings them to the chapel just as the kettle is boiling on a Thursday morning.