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Volunteers who kept cemetery gates open hand back the keys

Camden was set to close Hampstead Cemetery during the lockdown before helpers stepped in

09 July, 2020 — By Tom Foot

VOLUNTEERS who kept a cemetery open during the lockdown handed back the keys to the council on Sunday.

Since April 23 the Friends of Hampstead Cemetery have opened and shut the public space in Fortune Green Road, West Hampstead, each day.

The council had announced it was closing the cemetery due to staff shortages – so the group stepped up. The Friends had wanted to keep it open so people could pay their respects and enjoy peaceful walks on their daily exercise break.

“The volunteers have performed superbly and the team spirit and sense of camaraderie was heart-warming,” said volunteer coordinator Erich Wagner.

“Many visitors have come up and thanked us, saying how important it was for them.”

Twenty-three volunteers took part with the group posing for a photo, left, on the last day of closing on Sunday.

Volunteer Felicity Drown said: “The opportunity to volunteer to keep this lovely cemetery open was so important to me. Having sought solace there at the beginning of the lockdown, to see it under risk of closure was devastating. I’m so grateful to Erich for rallying round and getting a team together.”

The cemetery is open from 7.30am to 4pm.

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