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Chubb backs BNT work to care for historic cemeteries

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Special places: Lori Dunstan, the vice-president of global corporate giving at Chubb, Belvin Hendrickson of H & H Construction, and Charlotte Andrews, the head of cultural heritage at Bermuda National Trust (Photograph courtesy of Bermuda National Trust)

Fallen headstones and walls at cemeteries are being repaired and maintained with financial support from an insurance company.

Chubb backed the Bermuda National Trust’s work to look after the sites, which the charity said came after several years of decline.

Karen Border, the BNT executive director, explained: “The Bermuda National Trust was delighted and relieved to receive a grant from Chubb in 2022 and 2023 to help us care for these special places.

“For decades, the trust has leased the island’s historic cemeteries from the Bermuda Government and managed their care, relieving Public Works of the responsibility.

“We used to receive an annual grant from Government to maintain the hardscaping, such as perimeter walls and headstones, while the Department of Parks continued to carry out horticultural maintenance.

“However, in 2013 the government grant ceased and since 2019 the short-handed parks department had virtually ceased landscaping at the east end cemeteries.

“The trust was not in a financial position to pick up the slack, and some cemeteries became overgrown and began to fall into disrepair.

“Local families and community groups, such as St George’s Rotary Club, came to the rescue and put in many volunteer hours to remove invasive species that were taking over, but it was clear that regular maintenance contracts were needed to keep the cemeteries in a good state.”

She added: “BNT looked to the corporate community for support in 2022, and we were delighted that Chubb’s philanthropic board saw the value in maintaining these open spaces for the whole community.

“We were able to bring the invasive menace under control at the east end cemeteries.

“Fortunately the parks department has been able to resume regular landscaping there again and we are now directing Chubb funds to repair of the perimeter walls and fallen headstones.”

Care and preservation: Chubb is supporting the Bermuda National Trust's work to maintain cemeteries (Photograph supplied by the Bermuda National Trust)

The BNT said that the grant for 2023 was $25,000.

Lori Dunstan, the vice-president of global corporate giving at Chubb, said: “We’re proud of our continued support to the Bermuda National Trust in their efforts to ensure the care and preservation of the island's historic cemeteries.

“These sacred grounds provide a vital link to the island’s rich cultural heritage and tell the stories of generations of Bermudians.

“This grant will help with much needed maintenance upgrades to provide the dignity in rest these families deserve.”

A Chubb-funded project to restore and conserve perimeter walls of the Ferry Point Military Cemetery was recently completed by Belvin Hendrickson, of H & H Construction.

Charlotte Andrews, BNT’s head of cultural heritage, highlighted that a “great deal” of Bermuda’s history and family connections can be traced through cemeteries.

She said: “Headstones provide much genealogical information, some of which is available nowhere else.

“They also remind us of how far we have come thanks to modern medicine, when you read the headstones dedicated to women who died in childbirth, infants and children who fell victim to disease, and those carried off by yellow fever and other plagues.

“The historic military cemeteries at Ferry Point, Grenadier Lane and Secretary Road in St George’s Parish, the Prospect Garrison Cemetery in Devonshire and the Royal Naval Cemetery on Ireland Island, Sandys, recall the service of Bermuda’s war veterans and the history of the British, Canadian and US military and naval presence on the island.

“The graveyards also provide green oases where people can go for peace and quiet, and wildlife, such as our iconic bluebird, can thrive.

“As open space becomes increasingly rare, the natural heritage value of these spaces has grown too.”

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Published November 11, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated November 13, 2023 at 10:21 pm)

Chubb backs BNT work to care for historic cemeteries

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