Over the weekend we had the pleasure of meeting a group of volunteers from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to discuss the work they do on the island.

This coincided with a visit from project coordinator Frank Bridgeman-Sutton.

Across the island, there are about 400 graves or memorials to people who fought and died from across the Commonwealth and even a few from other countries. In some cases, their bodies were never returned home but a gravestone has been erected in cemeteries to allow their family on island to have a place to commemorate their lives and mourn their loss.

Frank told us that he works with the Eyes On Hands On volunteer programme to maintain and, where needed, repair the graves and memorials to make sure that they not only survive, but are eligible and ensure future generations can connect with those who gave their lives for the lives we enjoy today.

One volunteer, Patricia, told Gef she got involved with Eyes on Hands On through her work as a burial clerk in an authority which has five war graves. She said: ‘When I saw this come up on Facebook looking for volunteers, I signed up and got accepted. So now I look after St Peters, Lonan, our sister church and Maughold and we’re dividing up the care of the borough here.

‘Because I’m a clerk to the burial ground, so I look after that in turns of assigning plots, talking to the bereaved and arranging burials and because our headstones date back to the 1600s up to today and of course a lot of them are in disrepair and neglected because there is no-one left to look after them and it’s just terribly sad, so it’s nice that there’s an organisation that does look after the war memorials.’

Visits

If your community group, school or business, wants to know more about the work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, you can book a visit for a talk by clicking here.

You can see our interview with Frank below, sorry about the audio: