New bench to remember fallen heroes to be unveiled at Hebburn Cemetery

Friends of Hebburn Cemetery: Front from left John Stewart and Mark Young. Back from left Trish Conway, Carol White and Judith Pickering
Friends of Hebburn Cemetery: Front from left John Stewart and Mark Young. Back from left Trish Conway, Carol White and Judith Pickering

Fallen heroes buried within a South Tyneside cemetery are to be remembered with the unveiling of a memorial bench.

A special service will take place within Hebburn Cemetery on Sunday led by the Deacon of St Aloysius Church Peter Jones.

We always have such a good turnout when we hold services and we hope the service on Sunday will be no different.

John Stewart

The event will see the unveiling of a plaque and a bench specially designed to reflect the sacrifices of the men and women who fought for their country.

The metal three-seater bench will feature a poppy central cast,

The plaque and bench has been funded by the Friends of Hebburn Cemetery through a range of events.

The group of volunteers came together two years ago following a vandal attack which saw a number of graves desecrated and headstones ripped up.

Read more: The reason why the group was formed

Since then, they carry out regular clean-ups of the site, and have spruced up flower beds and enabled the daily opening of the tea-rooms within the cemetery.

The bench, which will be unveiled by volunteer George Bone MBE, will be placed close to the final resting places of 20 HMS Kelly sailors. Hebburn sea cadets will also be attendance at the ceremony.

The HMS Kelly crew members were killed when the Hebburn-built destroyer was hit but not sunk in a German torpedo attack in May 1940.

Also among the collective grave block, know as Section C, are 13 other servicemen who died in the 1939 to 1945 war.

Read more: The changing face of Hebburn Cemetery
Chairperson of the friends group, John Stewart said: “Since we started we have had excellent support from the community and businesses.

“What happened was horrendous but something good has come out of it.

“The cemetery is looking so much better. We managed to get our CCTV put in place and we have a tea room - it’s just marvellous.

“People say they feel a lot more safer coming here and having the tea room open gives people somewhere to go.

“We think the bench is the first of its kind in a cemetery in South Tyneside to recognise our servicemen and women - and it was something we felt was the right thing to have.

“It’ll be placed near to the Kelly graves which will give those visiting the graves a place to sit and reflect.”

Mr Steward added: “We always have such a good turnout when we hold services and we hope the service on Sunday will be no different.

“We have such great support from councillors Richard Porthouse, Adam Ellison and Nancy Maxwell as well as the Mayor Coun Ken Stephenson who have always been on hand to help us.”

Sunday’s service will start at 10am, with each person attending being given a keyring featuring an image of the plaque as a memento.