War memorials are in need of urgent repairs

SAMSUNG DIGIMAX A503
SAMSUNG DIGIMAX A503

WAR memorials in the district are in desperate need of repair, with two being deemed ‘structurally unsound’, according to surveys carried out by The War Memorial Trust.

For the first time ever, the trust has carried out surveys on the condition of the 33 war memorials and rolls of honour in the Leamington area, including Lillington, Cubbington, Whitnash and Old Milverton.

The results of the surveys show that several are in ‘poor condition’ and two are ‘structurally unsound’.

In order to preserve the memorials, extensive and costly work will need to be carried out. The trust offers grants to help out with repair works, and the amount of money available depends on the type of memorial.

For a free-standing memorial, the trust covers 50 per cent of the cost above £3,000 up to a maximum of £20,000. A fixed memorial receives 50 per cent of the cost up to a maximum of £2,500. Even after these grants, most custodians of the memorials will struggle to cover the rest of the costs.

Lillington’s war memorial is situated in St Mary Magdalene’s churchyard, which was recently the victim of attacks on 60 headstones. The memorial is in desperate need of work, but the churches priority must be the restoration of the headstones.

To try and help ease the financial burden on custodians such as St Mary Magdalene’s, Leamington residents have set up the Friends of Royal Leamington Spa War Memorial. Their aim is to raise funds locally to go towards the preservation of these memorials.

The group have already contacted Leamington Chamber of Trade, and funeral directors Henry Ison and Sons have pledged to help cover the costs of restoration of St Mary Magdalene’s and also the memorial in Midland Oak Park.

David Eason, chairman of the friends group, said: “The memorials have been around for so long, and people think they always will be, but that is not the case. These things are not going to repair themselves. It is a community job.”

He urges people to donate what they can so repair work can hopefully be finished in time for the centenary of the beginning of World War I in 2014. There is a particular appeal for any businesses who are willing to donate lump sums.

To get involved with the community project, either by joining the friends’ group or by making a donation, contact David at FRLSWM@yahoo.co.uk