ONE hundred and thirty five missing and damaged graves in a Rossendale cemetery have been replaced or salvaged by a dedicated band of volunteers.

For the past 18 months members of Veterans In Communities have been researching and refurbishing memorials, and on occasions creating new headstones for the First World War fighters.


Troops from units as varied as the East Lancs, Lancs Fusilers, Loyal North Lancs and Royal Field Artillery, even down to the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, have been commemorated.

Under the guidance of former military musician Peter Webster, VIC’s singing director, the campaigner used historian Wendy Lord’s book Where Heroes Rest as their source material, alongside information from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and council maps.

Ancestors of those who made the supreme sacrifice were also encouraged to lend assistance as part of the Heritage Lottery Fund-backed project.

Mr Webster said: “It has been a labour of love. We’ve had our ups and downs but at the end of the day it has been worthwhile and I have learnt more about the First World War.”

Rev Graham Higham, the Royal British Legion chaplain, conducted a dedication ceremony attended by Mayor of Rossendale, Cllr Marilyn Procter, reminding nearly 100 guests that such occasions remained important, even today.

Sir David Trippier, the former Rossendale and Darwen MP and president of the Helmshore branch of the Royal British Legion, said: “I don’t think I have been to anything as significant as today’s service. Today, in particular, we will remember them.”

The project was assisted by youngsters from Rossendale and Accrington, on a Prince’s Trust course with Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, completing 20 headstones and preparing foundations for graves.

Originally, councillors and Stacksteads Countryside Park Group approached VIC, asking if they would be interested in undertaking the research.