Winners of the Cemetery of the Year competition organised by the Memorial Awareness Board (MAB) were announced at the annual conference of Burial & Cremation Authorities (CBA) last month (September).
The conference this year was held in Torquay, Devon, and the winners of both the National Association of Memorial Masons (NAMM) Award for cemeteries of 10 acres and under and the CBA Award for cemeteries of more than 10 acres were Thorpe Road Cemetery.
The Thorpe Road Cemetery in Horden, County Durham, won the NAMM Award and Thorpe Road Cemetery in in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, won the CBA Award.
The judges said of the Melton Mowbray cemetery: Immaculately maintained with regularly swept paths, clean and empty bins and well cared for shrubs, flowerbeds and trees. The friendly and helpful staff also deserve credit for their effort in providing excellent facilities and a quality service for the public.
Of the Horden cemetery they said: Thorpe Road Cemetery was excellent in all areas and particularly user friendly. All areas of the site were easily accessible. A comprehensive sign with all manner of information greets visitors at the gate and several leaflets were available for members of the public. The cemetery provides a great variety of features for its size and gives a good choice to the local community.
Kate Parker, MAB\'s campaign co-ordinator, said: The winners of the Cemetery of the Year Awards, along with the other finalists, are the perfect embodiment of modern, well-run cemeteries and dispel the myth that cemeteries are places of doom and gloom.
There were 32 entries in the competition this year. They were assessed on design, maintenance, facilities, choice and initiatives to involve the local community.
The Awards are co-sponsored by the Confederation of Burial Authorities, the National Association of Memorial Masons and the Memorial Awareness Board.
Now in their third year, they were devised for two reasons: to encourage and reward the high standards among the nation\'s cemeteries and to raise public awareness of the role that cemeteries play within the community. Cemeteries can be a wealth of historical, social and ecological information as well as a haven for beauty and tranquillity.
In September, MAB circulated burial and cremation authorities with literature to try to persuade them to allow full size plots with full size memorials to be used for cremated remains if the public want them.
Many cemeteries and crematoria restrict memorials for cremated remains to small sizes and cram them in at high density levels. This lack of choice, says MAB, is perhaps why 43% of cremated remains are taken away by the bereaved and why another 40% are scattered in gardens of remembrance.
One of MAB\'s original aims when it was established by NAMM nearly 20 years ago was to campaign for the stone memorialisation of cremated remains. It has enjoyed considerable success with many cemeteries having opened areas for memorials to be erected over cremated remains.