War graves threatened by vegetation in Tangmere

Mike Nation hoping to raise money for the removal of the trees that threaten to damage the war graves in St Andrew's church in Tangmere.Picture by Kate Shemilt.C131567-5
Mike Nation hoping to raise money for the removal of the trees that threaten to damage the war graves in St Andrew's church in Tangmere.Picture by Kate Shemilt.C131567-5

WAR graves could be damaged if action is not taken in a Tangmere graveyard.

A number of pilots and soldiers are buried at St Andrew’s Church, but dead trees and unruly hedges could disturb the graves, which are maintained by the War Graves Commission.

“Obviously, we really needed to do something about it,” said Mike Nation, from the church’s committee, who is looking to raise money to remove the culprits.

A leylandii hedge, planted years ago, has got out of control and its roots could interfere with the graves.

The are also two dying trees that threaten the graves and anyone visiting.

Branches have fallen off in the past and Mr Nation described one of them as ‘50 per cent dead’.

The church has been advised the best solution is to remove the hedge and trees completely – and has been quoted £2,500.

There are around 20 to 30 war graves in Tangmere of people who served at the RAF base in the second world war – all the graves are in front of the hedge.

Around £1,000 has been raised so far.

There is a Christmas deadline for the work to take place, as a nearby field needs to be ploughed, but this has been held off to allow large vehicles to access the church yard and carry out the work.

The hedge and trees removal has been scheduled for December 16.

Although the War Graves Commission maintains the graves it was unable to help in this respect.

Mr Nation said: “I think we’re about a third of the way.

“We had help from the parish council.

“We had applied to the War Graves Commission but they don’t have very much money themselves.”

Members of the church have made donations but Mr Nation said the church itself did not have any reserves for the work.

The Tangmere Aviation Museum has provided £250.

“It’s important for the church to preserve all the graves we have in the church yard,” said Mr Nation.

When asked if he was confident the money would be raised, he said: “You have to be, don’t you?

“It’s no good belonging to the church if you can’t go forward in faith.”

Anyone who wants to help the campaign can contact St Andrew’s on 01243 785089 or email standrew.tangmere@sky.com