Highgate Cemetery in need of a new lease on life

Just as Manchester is defined by its football, so Highgate is defined by its cemetery and is famous the world over. For many years, as I trekked from Dulwich to Highgate to work in the cemetery, I thought how wonderful it must be to actually live in the H

Just as Manchester is defined by its football, so Highgate is defined by its cemetery and is famous the world over. For many years, as I trekked from Dulwich to Highgate to work in the cemetery, I thought how wonderful it must be to actually live in the Highgate community and contribute to bringing this wonderful place back to life.

It might be difficult to believe but, 25 years ago, Friends of Highgate Cemetery was a dynamic charity with clear policies. Now it is in a state of atrophy.

Some of you may be surprised to read that FOHC is a charity which anyone can join as, these days, the trustees appear to be running it like a private members' club.

What was once a policy of 'cultivated neglect' for the foliage in Highgate Cemetery now looks very much like mere 'neglect'.


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Part of the Friends' remit is to publish educational materials. Yet all they have managed in recent years is a pamphlet riddled with errors.

FOHC was founded in 1975. But, after all these years, the trustees have still not formulated any civilised and dignified appeals for money and still rely on harassment of visitors as their main form of fundraising.

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Recently, a large pink portable building has been dumped on the forecourt of the Eastern Cemetery, totally disregarding the aesthetics of the place and the concerns of graveowners.

A charity's lifeblood is the constant supply of new members. But FOHC's trustees are unable, or unwilling, to recruit them.

Membership has sunk so low that trustees feel safe in ignoring members' views. If anything I have written strikes a chord, can I please ask you to become members of FOHC?

It's not that difficult. Contact Susan Norton at the cemetery for an application form, return it with £12 and a SAE, and you too can join the responsible members of the charity and make your voices heard.

As you can see from my address, I no longer live in London. But I still care about Highgate and its cemetery and I very much hope that some of you feel the same.

Caroline Coombes

Levenshulme

Manchester, M19

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