Editorial relating to our progress
Telegraph & Argus
Tuesday 1st December 2009
By Marc Meneaud
A scheme for supporters to buy “shares” in a memorial garden dedicated to nearly 3,000 former mental patients has passed the century mark in only ten weeks. The Friends of High Royds Memorial Garden in Menston has sold shares to more than 100 people, generating more than £3,000 in donations to replace the unmarked graves of the former patients with a lasting tribute. Other donations, including a £1,159 contribution by Bradford-based funding provider Community Network, have meant the group can fully restore a derelict chapel in Buckle Lane where 2,861 former psychiatric patients from High Royds Hospital are buried.
Ron Sweeney, a spokesman for the friends group, said: “The public have responded very, very generously. “We are delighted that the public has responded to what they see as a need in the community and it is the public that are going to drive this project.” People who sign up to the share scheme can buy a minimum of ten shares at £1 each. The money raised will go towards the group’s project to refurbish the former chapel.
Builder Alan Storey, whose great grandmother is one of those buried in Buckle Lane, is restoring the chapel with the help of apprentice carpenters from Leeds College of Building.
The restoration is being funded by donations from groups including the High Royds Sports and Social Club, The Coronation Lodge 7426, the Royal and Antedeluvian Order of Buffaloes, Leeds MIND and West Yorkshire Regimental Association.
Mr Sweeney said the support through donations means the group can bid for more grants from funding bodies. If the bids are successful, the friends group will be able to complete its next major project – a floral garden of remembrance.
Mr Sweeney said: “I have now got to sit down with other members of the management committee to find out how much the memorial garden is going to cost, before submitting applications to funding bodies for what we think will be a substantial sum.
‘‘Once the chapel is restored it will belong to the people of Menston and the shareholders. It is going to be our responsibility to keep it in order and it really helps that local people are behind us.”