A MEMORIAL stone commemorating hundreds of babies who have been laid to rest at Wombwell Cemetery was officially unveiled to the public last weekend.
Known to many as ‘child poverty graves’, the Wombwell Cemetery site on Cemetery Road has two sites where more than 600 babies are buried - after families were unable to afford a full burial.
On Saturday, the Mayor of Barnsley Coun Mick Stowe officially unveiled the latest memorial stone - after tireless work from volunteers at the Friends of Wombwell Cemetery group.
Volunteer Jess Whiting told the Chronicle: “Wombwell Cemetery contains two baby memorial sites, historically referred to as ‘child poverty graves’.
“These sites serve as the final resting place for over 600 stillborn and young babies whose families could not afford a complete burial.
“One of the sites, situated at the Blythe Street end of the cemetery, was in use from 1868 to 1948, while the other site was operational between 1948 and 1978.
“As a tribute, the Friends of Wombwell Cemetery installed two memorial stones.
“In 2005, the original stone was installed and unveiled.”
Following work with Barnsley Bereavement Services, the council and volunteers, a new stone was installed to bring ‘unity’ between the two burial sites.
“It was commonly assumed that this site is smaller than the other due to the difference in stone sizes,” Jess added.
“After several years, the friends determined that a new stone was required to bring unity to the two sites.
“We’ve always worked to try and make this site bigger and better, but after some considerable fundraising we thought it was time to do something more substantial.
“A few months ago, the friends had the site paved as it was previously just a grassy verge, and then a stone was ordered to match the other memorial.
“We chose some lines of poetry for the stone and did a mock-up of some different positions on the paving, and then asked the volunteers and visitors what they preferred.”
The stone was blessed by Reverend John Armstrong at the event and local residents are now able to pay their respects.
Coun Robert Frost, who represents the Wombwell ward, was in attendance on the day and has thanked those responsible for ensuring the memorial stone is now in situ.
He added: “The baby memorial was unveiled and blessed at the ceremony and dedicated to over 300 named and unnamed babies
“Huge thanks must go to the Mayor of Barnsley, Rev John Armstrong, Friends of Wombwell Cemetery and all those involved in making the event possible.
“I hope this brings comfort and solitude to the babies relatives and friends.”