Friends of Morningside tend graves of WW1 dead to honour their ultimate sacrifice

Rona Robertson who is part of the Friends of Morningside Group are tidying the cemetery and are hoping  to install poppies on all the war graves in time for Armistice Day.
Rona Robertson who is part of the Friends of Morningside Group are tidying the cemetery and are hoping to install poppies on all the war graves in time for Armistice Day.
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It is almost 100 years since the end of the First World War and in one corner of the Capital volunteers are working hard to do something special to ensure those brave locals who gave their lives for their country are truly honoured.

Morningside Cemetery was previously seen as a run-down graveyard in a state of disrepair.

But 12 months ago a caring group decided to take it into their own hands and created Friends of Morningside Cemetery to help transform the public site into a more appealing and welcoming place for the whole community.

The group is currently spending time discovering how many war veterans are buried within the cemetery. Around 180 Commonwealth headstones represent those who died during active service but member Rona Robertson feels there could be around 300 overall.

The Friends group is hoping to pay for 300 ten-inch poppies to place on each of the war graves in time for a special anniversary for Armistice Day – marking 100 years since the end of the Great War. The self-funded group is now considering a number of fundraising efforts in order to make its vision a fitting tribute.

Veterans buried in the grounds fell at several battles, including Arras and Gallipoli, while those who fought in the Second World War were on active duty in France, Belgium and Italy.

Ms Robertson said: “It’s vitally important to remember those veterans. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude. Those young men gave their lives for the country. It is 100 years since the end of the First World War and it is important that we do something to remember that. It’s part of our culture and our history. It would be incredibly sad if we just ignore this.

“Most of us live in Morningside, we set up around a year ago due to the cemetery getting into a sorry state of affairs. It is sad when it is a large piece of community land and we wanted to step in to make it more loved and appreciated.

“There are a lot of interesting people who are buried there. A lot of people in the area don’t even know it’s there. We ended up asking the council to put a sign up.”

From gardening to installing benches, the core group of around 12 volunteers has already helped transform the land since it was neglected while under private ownership.

The land is now owned by the council which has welcomed the Friends group’s passion and determination.

Despite the majority of members living in Morningside, the group has been contacted by up to 100 people willing to help from as far as Craiglockhart and even Glasgow. The group has pressed on with plans to install information boards at the cemetery to give visitors an insight into the rich history of the land and the people buried there. Rona said: “It means a great deal to all of us. We’re there on a weekly basis but some can be there every day at some points of the year. The city council have been fantastic as well at supporting what we do.”

kieran.murray@jpress.co.uk