VILLAGERS have clubbed together to replace the historic gates stolen from Kingsley cemetery.
The community was shocked and saddened last year when thieves made off with the original pair of gates that had graced the entrance to the Hollow Lane burial ground for 112 years.
Kingsley Parish Council revealed the gates were not insured against theft – “the last thing we expected”.
It worked on a very small budget and it would be “quite some time” before the authority could afford the estimated £10,000 to replace the stolen wrought iron gates, like for like.
So friends and fellow residents John and Sheila Turner, John Hatchard, Nick and Julie Mort and Red Bull pub landlords Stephen and Lindsay Wales decided to do something about it.
Preparing to stage a special community fundraising event, they chipped in £200 between them to hire a venue.
“But then my neighbour, Mark Lewis, said he could make some gates for that,” said Mr Turner. “So we used the money to buy the materials and Mark actually donated his time and skill to produce the new steel gates.”
Villagers Fred and Marie Webb also donated extra money for paint, and Mr Lewis – a haulage contractor, who is also a trained welder/blacksmith – spent two days fabricating the gates, which have now been installed.
“They are loosely based on the design of the original gates, but I have incorporated the initials KC and the the date 2009 to make them really distinctive.
“All the hinges have been welded and we’ve done all we possibly can to secure them – hopefully these gates are here to stay!” he said.
Mr Turner said the donors were delighted with the new gates. His family has lived in Kingsley for 10 generations and he said he wanted to help provide them “as a matter of family and community pride”.
Kingsley parish councillor Graham Warburton said: “We held out for some while after the gates were stolen but didn’t really expect to get them back.
“To buy new, like for like, would have been very expensive and we were in a bit of a quandary about what to do.
“ I’m sure everyone in the village appreciates this very generous gesture by local residents.”