Royal President for Churchyard Charity

Caring for God’s Acre, the charity for the conservation of churchyards and burial grounds is delighted to announce that HRH The Prince of Wales has agreed to be the charity’s first ever President. They were informed by a letter from Clarence House that His Royal Highness had agreed to become President of Caring for God’s Acre.

 “We are absolutely thrilled by the fact that HRH The Prince of Wales has chosen us as one of the charities, which he has chosen to support.” said Sue Cooper, the manager of Caring for God’s Acre, based in Leominster in Herefordshire. “His Royal Highness presently supports around 4OO charities, so it is a great honour to have been selected and we hope it will help raise the profile of our work in support of the conservation of the country’s churchyards and sacred spaces”.

Important conservation and community work in the Church of England's 10,000 churchyards and the burial sites of other faiths and denominations will been given a boost by the announcement that HRH The Prince of Wales will be President. Caring for God’s Acre (CfGA) supports communities with the conservation and enhancement of the natural habitats and the built historic stonework of churchyards principally by working with community and special interest groups, and by drawing on the skills of a wide range of other organisations. There is no other comparable organisation that addresses both the nature conservation potential and the built heritage of these unique, sacred sites or that seeks to promote their potential for lifelong learning and as a community resource. Caring for God’s Acre is a secular charity and not part of the Church of England but supported by it.

Last year its work was promoted by the Church of England's national environmental campaign ‘Shrinking the Footprint’ through the United Nation's International Year of Biodiversity. Churchyards and burial sites are often the most biodiverse places in communities with wildlife audits revealing a surprising range of wild plants and animal life in churchyards.

“Churchyards and old burial grounds are ‘living sanctuaries’ providing a refuge for a rich diversity of plants and animals,” said Sue. “They are also important places for archaeology and history, revealing evidence of the past and documenting the lives of people who once lived and worked in a parish.”

The letter from Clarence House indicated that His Royal Highness had taken an interest in Caring for God’s Acre work and that he approved their approach to churchyard and burial ground conservation. The letter requested that he be kept updated about their continuing work, which involves developing and supporting a national churchyard and burial ground scheme.

CfGA helps people to plan the sensitive management of churchyards to make them safe places of peace for burials and quiet reflection. CfGA also celebrates and promotes churchyards as sites of interest for learning and practical conservation tasks. The old skills of dry stone and lime mortared walling and scything of grassland are regularly offered as day courses, places for which are filled as soon as they are advertised.

We have recently enjoyed a 24 hour challenge in St Weonard’s churchyard in the village of the same name, in Herefordshire through our Heritage Lottery funded Churchyard Task Team to record all the species of wildlife, from bats to bees, mosses to mammals on Midsummer’s Day,” added Sue, “just one small example of what we do practically to preserve heritage, conserve wildlife and involve local communities. Perhaps, His Royal Highness will join us one day to see and experience what we do.”

CfGA has 3 Patrons: Sir Roy Strong, Prof David Bellamy OBE and Lawrence Banks

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