St Philip’s Church in Church Road, Bradmore, is appealing to council bosses for a new safer walkway to be established through its graveyard, with a secured gate at the rear allowing pedestrians to enter.
Young people on the city council’s KickStart scheme – which provides high-quality work placements for people aged 16 to 24 – have spent the past few months clearing the large overgrown churchyard, with a view to transforming it into a haven of peace and tranquillity for local dog walkers and visitors.
Councillor Jacqui Sweetman visited the church this week to receive a petition from the local community requesting the new gate and path to vicar Rev Peter Smith.
She said: “The local community which embraces St Philip’s Church has been a faithful one for many years. Many local people use the park adjoining the church and almost see it as one.
“I just want to see that proper checks are made for the new gate so that health and safety rules are met and a new gate installed for parishioners to use.”
The council’s strategic asset manager Luke Dove and parks and landscape manager Dave Millington also visited the church this week to inspect the site and talk to Councillor Sweetman and Rev Smith about ways of bringing the plan to fruition.
Rev. Smith said: “The youngsters from KickStart have done a truly amazing job on the churchyard, cutting back all the bushes and general overgrowth so that a lot of the graves – many of which are very old – are now visible.
“People have unfortunately been breaking in through the perimeter fence to gain access to the grounds in the past, and we hope that by providing an established gated entrance and safe direct route to the church via a newly resurfaced path that this will solve the problem.
“Unfortunately, the grounds had also been used for various incidents of anti-social behaviour in the past due to the fact that they were so overgrown, but thanks to the hard work and dedication put in every day by the young people in tidying the site this has since diminished.
“Anyone who is familiar with the church and the graveyard will know that it’s a very peaceful place to visit that is full of history. It’s incredibly popular with dog walkers. So to have this new gate and path will be a great enhancement, he added.
The church and graveyard, which dates back to around 1858, stands opposite a First World War memorial to men from Penn Fields, Bradmore and Merry Hill who served between 1914 and 1919, including those who returned as well as those who lost their lives.
Council workers are now putting together a detailed report to move the plan forward, working in conjunction with Councillor Sweetman and Rev Smith.