A CITY cemetery has been given an award of excellence for its outstanding service and ground maintenance standards

Astwood Cemetery has secured an ICCM Charter Gold standard for both its service and its outdoor work from the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management.

The ICCM gold award is given to cemeteries and crematoria which not only provide outstanding service for both burials and cremations, but also score highly in other areas such as staff expertise and grounds maintenance standards.

This is the third award the cemetery has received this year.

Cllr Zoe Cookson, vice chair of Worcester City Council’s Environment Committee, said: “We are justifiably proud of Astwood Cemetery and delighted to see it recognised with these awards.

"They acknowledge that our staff go the extra mile to help the bereaved, providing a first-rate service in beautiful surroundings and ensuring that they are supported throughout the funeral process right down to the last detail.”

Staff at Astwood have been working for several years to improve all aspects of the cemetery, including the grounds, which have gardens of remembrance, a garden of solace, a wreath terrace, and a natural burial area.

The natural burial area is managed using techniques that promote wildflower growth across the whole site, which also has bat boxes, bird boxes, mammal hides, a solar-lit brook and even beehives to encourage flora and fauna.

The cemetery has achieved Green Flag status for the second year running and its covid memorial garden has also recently scooped the ‘British Register of Accredited Memorial Masons (BRAMM) Bereaved Community Award’ silver prize.

The Covid Memorial area is called the Forget You Not Garden, and visitors are invited to write messages to their loved ones on notelets made from recycled paper and infused with wildflower seeds, and then post them into the letterbox.

In due course, the notelets will be planted into the garden, allowing the wildflowers to grow and become a lasting memorial.

A special memorial service is being held at Astwood Crematorium at 6pm on Thursday, December 14.

The service will provide an opportunity for people from across Worcester to come together and remember the loved ones they have lost over the past year.

Tickets are free, but numbers are limited, so residents are encouraged to apply for tickets as soon as they can by calling 01905 22633 or emailing bereavementservices@worcester.gov.uk.