Brookwood Cemetery receives national recognition
08 October 2018
One of the largest cemeteries in the country has received 'Gold' recognition for its high industry standards and good practice at the prestigious National Cemetery of the Year Awards.
Brookwood Cemetery won the 2018 Gold award in the Large Cemetery category at the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management Learning Convention and Exhibition at the Oxford Belfry Hotel, last week (Tuesday 2 October 2018).
Brookwood Cemetery is one of the most significant heritage assets in the Borough and it is considered by Historic England as a site of national significance, being a Grade 1 listed park and garden.
The Cemetery was opened in 1854 by the London Necropolis and National Mausoleum Company to house London's dead. In the early 20th Century, part of the site was sold to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to accommodate the graves of the Commonwealth victims of the First World War, as well as a separate area allocated to the American Battle Monuments Commission for American victims.
Philip Potts of the Memorial Awareness Board, who have been promoting and organising the Cemetery of the Year Awards for nearly 20 years, said: "The awards are an excellent opportunity to reward hard-working staff and demonstrate the central role cemeteries and church yards can play in the community. They provide places of peaceful contemplation and beauty, as well as their historical, social and ecological importance.
'The team at Brookwood Cemetery performed exceptionally throughout the extensive judging period which is focused on industry standards, good practice and freedom of choice."
Ian Tomes, Woking Borough Council's Strategic Asset Manager, who oversees the cemetery, said: "This award is such a wonderful pat on the back for Avril Kirby and her team at Brookwood Cemetery. It acknowledges that they go above and beyond to try and provide a reliable, friendly and quality service.
"It is also recognition for the huge amount of work and investment that has gone into cemetery over than past four years, which is transforming the site and restoring it to its former glory."
Cllr Ayesha Azad, Woking Borough Council's Portfolio Holder for Asset Management, added: "I would like to congratulate Avril Kirby and her team on their success at the National Cemetery of the Year Awards.
"We consider Brookwood Cemetery to be a vitally important part of our heritage and its future. Receiving this national award validates the work and investment we have made and continue to do so.
"We are committed to ensuring that the cemetery continues to be a unique and special location for those seeking a final resting place for their loved ones, as well as retaining its status as a site of national importance."
Since acquiring Brookwood Cemetery in December 2014, the Council has implemented an extensive programme of restoration. Works have included removing vegetation that has returned previously overgrown areas of the cemetery to use, building a new mausoleum and creating a landscaped Garden of Remembrance and an additional 100 burial plots featuring carefully selected trees and shrubs, including a specimen Cedar of Lebanon, that reflects the historic nature of the Grade 1 listed cemetery. The cemetery lake has also been rebuilt and extensive improvements made to the office and public facilities. Currently works are ongoing to replace sections of the historic perimeter wall.