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11th October 2010 (Lancashire Telegraph)

Darwen Old Cemetery vandals smash gravestone

YOUTHS have smashed a gravestone
into three pieces after running amok in
Darwen Old Cemetery.
Now a friends group is working with local
children to stop similar attacks occurring,
and is even considering giving pupils the
chance to 'adopt a grave'.
The stone cross monument to Alice Varley
and her two baby sons has now been laid flat,
awaiting repair after the vandalism.
Delicately carved with flowers and birds,
it was erected in the late autumn of 1906, and had stood undisturbed until a loud crashing noise was heard and three teenagers were seen running
away from scene at 5pm on September 8th.
Coun John East, chairman of the Friends of Darwen Cemetery, said: "Damage like this is very rare in this cemetery, but it's very disappointing for it to happen.
"The monument has been laid down while we concentrate on refurbishing other parts of the cemetery, but it will eventually be put back.
"We have reported this incident to the police and we're also now working with Darwen Aldridge Community Academy on their 'Stand Out In Darwen' camapign, trying to address issues with young people.
"We're trying to get year seven, eight and nine pupils interested in helping out and in the 'adopt a grave' scheme.
"We want to encourage an inter-generational workforce to help restore the site.
"The young people who want to cause damage are far more outweighed by the young people willing to help."
So far, the Friends of Darwen Cemetery have re-erected 150 headstones felled during council health and safety work.
Members hope to create a heritage site where local residents can trace their family history and the history of the town.
Five Darwen schools have signed up to help look after graves in the cemetery and pupils have been invited to an outdoor Armistice Day service by the cemetery's Cross of Sacrifice at 11am on November 11th.

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