Memorandum by the Memorial Awareness Board
1. The Memorial Awareness Board (MAB) is
a campaigning organisation working to raise awareness of memorialisation
and bereavement issues and promote the memorial industry.
The Executive Committee of MAB comprises of
memorial masonry wholesalers and retailers, a funeral director,
a member of the Confederation of Burial Authorities and representatives
from the National Association of Memorial Masons.
MAB is actively involved in many industry initiatives
and with other organisations.
The latest industry news is contained in The
Bulletin, MAB's bi-monthly magazine. The Bulletin also contains
features, profiles of memorial masons and cemeteries and regular
columns from the industry's opinion leaders.
..... current MAB campaigns
2. CEMETERY OF
Since the first CYA in 1998, MAB has co-sponsored
and organised the competition with the Confederation of Burial
Authorities and the National Association of Memorial Masons.
The CYA was devised for two reasons: to encourage
and reward high standards amongst Britain's cemeteries and to
raise public awareness in the role that cemeteries play within
the community. Cemeteries can be an important local resource in
areas where no other open space exists and they also provide a
wealth of historical, social and ecological information. Entrants
are assessed on a range of aspects including design, maintenance,
facilities, choice and community involvement.
3. FREEDOM OF
Across the country, the bereaved are being denied
their freedom in memorial choice due to the enforcement of unjustifiable
regulations by burial authorities. In response to growing public
demand, MAB and the National Association of Memorial Masons launched
an ongoing campaign in May 1999 to improve freedom of choice by
raising public awareness of the issue and fighting for the relaxation
of unnecessary rules.
Currently MAB is working on the specific areas
of memorials for cremated remains and traditional kerbset memorials.
The type of memorial offered for cremated remains
is not on a par with other memorials and many burial authorities
ban kerbset memorials apparently for maintenance reasons. However,
these positions are not sustainable and cemeteries are beginning
to relax their regulations to allow greater freedom to grave owners.
MAB has organised several regional Roadshows
recently to promote memorialisation issues to local communities.
The audiences typically include memorial masons, funeral directors,
cemetery managers, council representatives and members of the
5. THE ENVIRONMENTAL
Cemeteries often contain a surprising amount
of wildlife and can be the only area in a borough where the natural
Many cemeteries work in partnership with local
environmental groups to ensure that their site are a haven for
wild flora and fauna. Cemeteries such as Park Avenue Cemetery
in Sheffield now cultivate naturalised areas. Another good example
is Alperton Cemetery in Wembley which has a wildlife area which
includes bird boxes and is visited by foxes, frogs, owls and slow
A great number of cemeteries have recycling
schemes such as shredding tree cuttings and old fencing and using
the remnants for shrub beds and borders. Many recycle green waste
It is important that we should appreciate the
environmental significance of cemeteries as they are sometimes
the only green area within a borough.
Projects such as the Living Churchyard and Cemetery
project encourage the enhancement of wildlife and its habitat
in churchyards and burial grounds through conservation management.
6. THE HISTORICAL
Cemeteries are rich sources of information and
Britains cemeteries all have hidden treasures,
they are places which are rich in culture and heritage.
Cemeteries are a great way to find out the age
of a community and its ethnic composition. The style of the headstones,
the symbolism of their art and their inscriptions reflect religious
beliefs, social class and values, as well as cultural change over
It is important that people be made aware of
the educational opportunities which can be found in cemeteries
and just how much they have to offer.
The London Borough of Brent for instance has
produced a brochure detailing the local heritage to be found in
their cemeteries and fans of J R R Tolkein, author of The Hobbit,
can visit his grave at Oxford's Wolvercote Cemetery, details of
which appear in The Tolkein Society's local guide.
The Living Churchyard and Cemetery Project encourages
the educational use of churchyards and burial grounds.
7. THE CONDITION
Some cemeteries do suffer from neglect, it is
certainly a topic which dominates in the press.
For those with family buried in well-maintained
cemeteries, the visiting experience can be supportive, encouraging
more frequent visits and greater attention to upkeep of plots
over long periods to time. Good upkeep of the grounds may also
encourage a shared sense of community among mourners, providing
informal support for those who may have reduced networks of kin
Schemes such as the Cemetery of the Year awards
encourage cemetery managers to keep their cemeteries maintained
to the highest standards.
Other issues concerning the condition of existing
cemeteries are safety and vandalism.
- THE ROLES
DETR AND OTHER
MAB sees the roles and responsibilities of the
DETR and other Government Departments and Agencies as follows:
(a) to oblige local authorities to make adequate
provision of burial space for the needs of communities;
(b) to ensure there is sufficient funding
for the provision of burial space;
(c) to legislate for improvements in the
administration of cemeteries so that they are not so restrictive
with their regulations and offer the bereaved more freedom of
(d) to refuse approaches from bodies representing
cemeteries which want to be allowed to sell memorials as this
would result inevitably in a restriction of the type of memorial
being offered to the public; and
(e) to permit the sale of graves under renewable
leases and the recycling of existing graves in areas where there
is a shortage.
The issue of space is now becoming increasingly
pressing. MAB takes the view that local authorities should be
addressing this issue, looking at the number of graves available
and therefore the expected life of the cemetery. They should look
to purchase more land adjacent to the current cemetery or open
new cemeteries in the area. It is imperative that where burial
land is in short supply, old graves are recycled and new ones
sold on renewable leases.
10. THE MANAGEMENT
It is essential that government subsidies should
be available where necessary. The Ideal Cemetery Brochure has
been produced to persuade politicians (local and national) that
there is a need for cemeteries to receive more funding. See Appendix
11. THE FUNDING
The provision of cemeteries throughout the country
is an important public service and cemeteries can never be fully
self-sufficient. Cemeteries will always require public money.
It may be possible to run a cemetery using the funds generated
from fees charged from the sale of new graves or re-opening old
graves for second interments. However, the capital required to
set up a new cemetery or extend an existing one has to come from
Local Government, Central Government or the National Lottery
Two important points would help the funding
of cemeteries. The first is to allow cemeteries to retain all
revenue they receive from fees for the sale of graves and the
permission to allow memorials to be erected and inscriptions added.
Secondly, the recycling of graves could raise additional funds.
What would not be acceptable would be for burial
authorities to engage in the retail sale of memorials to the public
to raise funds. The MAB believes that the sale of memorials by
burial authorities is unlawful, unfair and will result in a reduction
of choice to the consumer.