Restoration of our historic community asset

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“I would like to thank you for taking the time to give the very informative tour of the cemetery. Andrea, Sarah and I really enjoyed our time with you. It was great to be among our ancestors. You and your other volunteers have done an outstanding job.

Thanks again and we look forward to seeing you on our next visit to Farsley.”

Ed Sutcliffe, Virginia, USA.

Our history……..

The Farsley Rehoboth Baptist Burial Ground was a place of internment from 1785 to 2000 and reflected the growth of Farsley Leeds, particularly its textile industry with many prominent residents buried within.

In total, approximately 4,000 residents of Farsley, Rodley, and Calverley are buried in Rehoboth, all with their own stories and contributions to the region’s growth and history.

Our work began with the purchase of the Rehoboth on May 31, 2019 and has progressed with over 21,000 unpaid volunteer hours dedicated to the recovery of this historic site.

Our first major donation was from the Aviva Community Fund; and we truly appreciate your continued support for this important project.

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Photo: Laying of the last stones, restoration of a quarter of a mile of wall.

Bringing the whole community together…….

For many years, relatives had not had access to the graves without intrusion. The neglect of the cemetery had been considerable. The only entrance on Coal Hill Lane was padlocked and inaccessible due to overgrowth of trees and foliage.

Our registered charity (number 1182468) was established in March 2019 to purchase, recover, maintain this historic land, make it accessible, restore the heritage of local people and return it to the community as an asset. We are also an officially designated Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery.

There are eight official war graves and fifteen memorial graves in the cemetery from both World Wars. All have been thoroughly researched and their stories are now told to the community. The 15 “memorial graves” were all discovered by volunteers. An inscription honoring a deceased member of their family is engraved on each grave. November is a special month where the focus is on those who gave their lives.

Please click here to visit our website for more information on our war graves and memorials.

This was the only registered Commonwealth War Cemetery in the UK without a right of access on Remembrance Sunday, until our television service on 11 November 2019. Our second service was delivered on Thursday 11 November 2021.

Please click here for our 2021 service coverage.

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Photo: Reconstruction of a collapsed memorial war grave.

What we have achieved so far……………

Between April 24, 2019 and August 5, 2022, we held 568 volunteer work sessions, attended by 5,545 participants who kindly donated their time. This despite the restrictions and closures imposed and necessary due to Covid-19.

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Photo: Construction of a new wheelchair accessible road.

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Photo: Completion of our exterior wall renovation.

We are often told that our rehabilitation project has galvanized the community, with the “can do” attitude of the volunteers.

The continued development of this project has created a deep sense of local pride.

This allowed visitors to rediscover the legacy of a previously lost local asset that now benefits relatives, locals, friends and historians around the world.

Our heritage team offers guided tours for the general public and loved ones on a weekly basis, supported by an extensive online database integrated into the website:

Please click here to visit our website.

To develop and fulfill our role within the ecosystem, we have mapped and preserved tree and plant life which is monitored and documented each year. We have transformed sections of our two-acre site with new plants, bird habitats, new foliage and a water supply to combat the effects of climate change.

Our portable and recognizable skills within volunteer teams range from restoring memorials to rebuilding a quarter-mile of 150-year-old walls, family and military research, excavations, non-invasive management foliage, all of which are undertaken by unpaid volunteers.

Our project contributes to our West Leeds region by providing access and guided tours to our reclaimed heritage site which was inaccessible for decades, attracting hundreds of visitors who use local shops and services.

We have partnered with local and national businesses, our local academy and youth organizations and 100 inducted volunteers. We encourage volunteer placement opportunities with Voluntary Action Leeds, Goodgym.org, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards Scheme, Police Cadets, a local specialist inclusive learning center (West SILC) and businesses. We welcome everyone.

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Photo: Our new entrance and staging area with Goodgym.org volunteers.

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Photo: A local police cadet volunteer places poppies on our gates.

Please ask for additional information or details about our work.

E-mail: [email protected]

A testimony of our work ………

“My name is Mike Turner and I live on the Isle of Wight with my wife Ann. I have researched family history on my wife Ann’s side. She has two half-sisters, Jean and Margaret from her father’s first marriage, unfortunately they lost their mum when they were 5 and 7. Jean and Margaret were never taken to their mother’s grave, even though they knew where she was. Then, of course, the Rehoboth Cemetery was sold off and turned into a jungle. This week we visited the site expecting to only be able to look at the gate! Imagine our surprise at all the work that had gone on and which was still ongoing I spoke to the volunteers working there and explained Jean’s situation and that his mother’s grave was E23 I couldn’t believe they said it was accessible We put on high visibility jackets and were taken to the grave Can you imagine what Jean got r felt seeing and touching his mother’s grave for the first time, aged 78. The bonus was that his grandparents were also buried with his mother.”

When the Leeds Rhinos came to help this spring……….

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Please click here to see the full article on our website.

How YOU can help…………

We focus on restoring and rebuilding tombs, securing the ecological balance using 30 months of experience in infrastructure development, creating all-weather accessible paths and tracks and stepped paths that preserve the steep slopes from erosion.

To date, in July 2022, we have marked 151 “unmarked” graves with headstones incorporating personalized plaques to identify the majority of the 261 graves that have no identification. Proceeds from this appeal will be used to fund the next installment of 50 headstones. This project is included in our awards program for this call.

Please click here to visit our website and view our reclamation work.

We have introduced a national grid power supply to provide lighting, two Wi-Fi hubs for QR stations and also for AV projections during tours, cameras to record wildlife activity and to ensure the safety of volunteers.

We appreciate your interest and continued support from Aviva staff, and you will be welcome to visit or if you prefer to volunteer.

To enable us to raise our target fund for this cherished local historic site, we are appealing to your generosity to ask you to donate to this very worthwhile charity.

THANK YOU.

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Photo: A dedicated volunteer.

Our volunteers appreciate your support and that of the Aviva Community Fund.

Please ask for additional information or details about our work.

E-mail: [email protected]

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