Well, WHAT a year! Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust has always been a charity willing to fight for the things that matter. This year we have fought tooth and nail to look after and protect this special place. It has been a huge challenge with our income reduced by over 70% because of the pandemic. I am so proud of our team and our volunteers, who have worked tirelessly, offering words of comfort and support through these difficult times.
In our April newsletter I spoke of the four key qualities to consider in times of crisis: kindness, generosity, empathy, and solidarity. It’s these qualities that we have embedded into all that we do.
We were warmly touched that so many of you chose to donate after we suffered a continued spate of vandalism in the summer. The kindness of our community continues to inspire and encourage us when times are tough.
We were hugely relieved to receive a National Lottery Heritage Emergency Fund grant to provide support in response to the coronavirus crisis. Made possible by money generously raised by National Lottery players, this funding has helped cover essential costs. We were also successful in funding bids to Power to Change and the government Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage. A great big thanks to our funders and donors for believing in us and what we do.
We know that you love visiting Arnos Vale to visit graves and remember loved ones, to improve your wellbeing, to engage with nature and to listen to birdsong (you can listen to our dawn chorus here). You like exploring our paths and heritage, or enjoy reading a book on a bench and we love you visiting. Throughout this period, you have let us know how important the cemetery is to you. We enjoy hearing from you and your stories. Thank you for your feedback, it helps us make better decisions.
Our own history has cemented the importance of Arnos Vale to the people of Bristol and beyond. This place was saved by the community for the community. Yet again, we are feeling this community spirit. I always say that we are a place of love, you tell us how much you love visiting and many of the headstones mention “loved by…” “beloved” or simply “love” and it is this love, for this special place that we share.
At the end of November we are launching our Christmas Appeal. Please help us if you can. Every donation – no matter how big or small – will help preserve and enhance this magical place for months and years to come.
We want to say thank you to everyone for choosing to be a part of our community. If you’d like to, we’d love to see you at our free virtual carol concert with the Nightingale Valley Community Choir and Arnos Vocale for a good old sing along at home.
We really value your support and friendship during these incredibly difficult times and wish you all a merry, merry Christmas from myself and the team x
Ellie Collier, Nov 2020