It is hoped that, subject to COVID-19 regulations allowing, The Memorial Garden/Chapel will be open for the National Heritage Day on Sunday September 20th commencing at 10-00a.m. The day will conclude with a Special Remembrance and Thanksgiving Service commencing at 4-30pm led by the Revd. Andrew Howorth. Further details will be posted nearer the time.
Chairman’s Report – May 2020
In accordance with the Financial Conduct Authority’s regulations we would normally have held a public AGM in April. However due to COVID-19 we were unable to do this so we are writing to all our many friends and supporters instead. This year, plans had been made to join with the charity “Caring for God’s Acre”, various experts and other organisations to raise the profile and celebrate the unique heritage within these special sites in a campaign called : The Year of the Beautiful Grounds! Funding events had been planned but have had to be postponed. Likewise National Conferences were to be held to look at the ways as to how these burial sites can create a haven for wild-life to further enhance the environment. Hopefully these activities will be resumed as soon as possible. This year also coincides with the 10th anniversary of when the local community became the owners (through the Trustees) of the then derelict chapel and neglected High Royds Psychiatric Hospital graveyard on Buckle Lane, Menston .During these10 years, with the help of the community and various grants, the Chapel has been restored with a permanent record of the 2861 former patients, who are buried in the graveyard, kept there. The graveyard itself has been converted into a Memorial Garden which has featured on national TV, won several awards and is officially recognised as part of Historic England. A recent development (in 2019) saw a Sensory Garden constructed for those who are sight-impaired or have Dementia problems. This Sensory Garden is now starting to bloom and gives an added touch of colour to the Garden.
SO FAR – SO GOOD – BUT!! In addition to the chapel/graveyard we are also responsible for 1.5 acres of the surrounding woodland and the site of the former railway line which was used to connect High Royds Hospital with Leeds. In an area which is increasingly being developed this area of natural beauty is important and is already home to a variety of wildlife. In 2020, as part of the national campaign, we were looking to develop this further to help with the wild-life and environment. Local schools have already helped to install Bat boxes in the wood and a Hedgehog sanctuary has recently been established. Now, in view of the serious decline of bees, a request was received regarding the possibility of one or two bee-hives also being installed. Whilst the plans for developing the Woodland Nature Reserve have had to put on hold for the time being the Garden, despite the lockdown, has remained open and is available for anyone who wishes to spend a peaceful few minutes there. On behalf of the Trustees/Management Committee our thanks for all the past help in helping to remember the former patients and also in keeping our environment as green and pleasant as possible.
Dr. Ron Sweeney Chairman, Friends of High Royds Memorial Garden
NB. During the lockdown the grounds have been kept in good shape thanks to Edward Newbould Rance