'We need to sing and shout about Sheffield General Cemetery to help secure its future'

Sheffield General Cemetery.
Sheffield General Cemetery.
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Desperate volunteers have called for the city to 'sing and shout' about Sheffield General Cemetery following fears the site could close.

Howard Greaves, chairman of Hallamshire Historic Buildings, said he was concerned to hear about the financial state of the Sharrow park after volunteers said the site could close when its two paid staff lose their jobs at the end of the month.

Sheffield General Cemetery.

Sheffield General Cemetery.

But Mr Greaves added that he felt more should be done to promote the site as a 'destination' for visitors from across the country.

He said: "There are so many big name people buried in there and it's been allowed to fall into ruin and I think it could be quite a good tourist attraction.

"If any other city had a cemetery like that, which I think is up there with Highgate Cemetery in London, then it would be celebrated but people don't know much about it and some don't even know it's there."

The volunteers' concerns come as the trust, which manages the cemetery, said funds had reached a 'critical level' and that it needed to raise more money to continue its work.

Mr Greaves said: "A lot of volunteers have put a lot of time and effort in but it needs to come from above.

"It could be more of a destination that people want to go and see but we just need to sing and shout about it more."

Mr Greaves also suggested that obelisks, which were on Cemetery Avenue until around 1926, could be reinstated on the site and made into an attraction.

He added: "Everyone needs to be shouting from the rooftops about the cemetery."

Janet Ridler, a trustee at Sheffield General Cemetery Trust, said talk of a possible closure may be a little premature but added the trust was having a 'funding crisis'.

She said: "We are having a funding crisis at the minute. Obviously we are a very small charity which has been funded largely on donations and small grants but funders nowadays are more reluctant to fund core running costs so a combination of all that has led to use putting the word out to people about the work the trust does and we're asking people to either get involved or, perhaps more crucially, make donations."

Sheffield Council approved its own planning application in May to carry out controversial improvements at the site.

The authority's planning and highways committee gave the green light for works which they claim will see the site removed from Historic England's Heritage At Risk register.

But those living near the site objected to the creation of a 13-bay car park within the site, leading the council to downgrade the proposals to three disabled bays.

Lisa Firth, head of parks and countryside at Sheffield Council said: “We’re sorry to hear that the General Cemetery trust has had to reduce staffing levels. We work together with the trust volunteers in the cemetery and are grateful for their continued support and commitment in helping to maintain this historically important site.”

For more information on the appeal for funds or to donate visit www.gencem.org