Kindness and charitable giving are deeply ingrained within the principles of Freemasonry and the organisation provides the structure for members to make positive contributions to their communities and various causes. Such was the case here in St David’s Cemetery Carmarthen on Monday December 7th when a cheque for £700 was donated to the charity by Mr Mark Bassett, (on the right ) the Chairman of the Mackworth Club , a young Freemasons Club that operates under the Masonic Province of West Wales.
Also attending in support of the presentation was Mr James Ross, (left) the Provincial Grand Master of the Masonic Province of West Wales. This donation was in addition to a previous donation of £200. Richard Goodridge Chairman of the Charity (centre) welcomed the donation and thanked them for being so generous, not only financially but also for their time and the huge physical effort that many members of the Mackworth Club had already contributed in the restoration of several of the memorials and ground work on more than one occasion . The restoration of Frederick James Finglah’s grave being the pinnacle of their achievements.
I am pleased to say that the restoration of memorials continues to proceed despite the Pandemic crisis that we have all endured since March of this year. The Thomas & Elizabeth Mayhook Charity is particularly indebted to the fourteen members of the “Mackworth Club” of local Freemasons who gave up their time recently to help continue our efforts to restore as many graves as possible. This is not the first time they have helped us and I am sure it will not be the last. The charity is also grateful to the financial support they have given and more on this will be published shortly.
On a dreary and extremely wet Sunday, in what was one of the most dreadful conditions imaginable a total of nine memorials were cleaned and restored, mostly of the concrete kerb variety, where the old stones and debris were removed and new white spar added. Also one slate headstone was uprighted and embedded in a concrete base, and a further memorial to James Finglah – a very special individual was also completely restored and a special feature will appear soon on this remarkable individual.
Also the Cross of souls memorial project gathers momentum and I am grateful to the Diocesan Advisory Committee for granting permission for this very special memorial to be erected. Plans are afoot to begin the construction of the concrete base followed by other work and it is hoped that it will all be completed by the end of January, and ready for the unveiling and consecration on February 3rd. I am also delighted to inform you that the Right Honourable The First Minister for Wales , Mr Mark Drakeford PC will lay the first wreath following consecration and will be followed by Professor Medwin Hughes DL, Vice Chancellor of Trinity St David’s University who will lay a wreath on behalf of the “Friends” of the charity. Further information will appear about this in January. Thank you all very much for your continued support.
Today of course is Remembrance Sunday. Over the last few days, myself and my brother Robert together with Mr Chris Dzioba have been busy cutting the grass which between the three of us took about six hours in total with our three garden lawnmowers. The grounds now look very nice indeed as a result. New wooden poppy crosses are regularly placed on the memorials within St David’s and the photographs I hope provide you with some comfort in knowing that we look after all the memorials with equal diligence, even during the pandemic crisis. Whilst we have several World War One Commonwealth War Graves in the cemetery, this photograph is of the memorial to Brighty Thomas Lewis…………….
Private Brighty Thomas Lewis – Welsh Regiment
His many friends learned with regret of the death of Pte. Brighty Thomas Lewis, 1/4 Welsh Regiment, son of Mr. D. Lewis, 47, Mill-street, which occurred on Saturday at the age of 29 years. Deceased joined the Army in November, 1914, and landed in Egypt in August, 1915. He had served in the East for about three and a half years. He was wounded in March. 1916, and again on July 13th, 1918, when he had the misfortune to lose his right leg. Pte. Lewis arrived home from hospital on December 14th, and had been under several operations for his leg. Before joining the Army, he was a collier at Ponthenry. Sympathy is felt with the bereaved father, widow and two little children in their sorrow. The funeral took place on Tuesday at St. David’s Churchyard, Revs. E. Basil Herbert and J. Gwynfe Jones officiating. Deceased was accorded military honours, and the funeral was a very impressive one. Heading the cortege were the Deputy Mayor (Ald. John Lewis, J.P.), and Councillor Thos. Davies, who were followed by a large muster of soldiers on leave, among whom were several repatriated prisoners of war. Members of the Discharged Soldiers’ Federation were also present in good numbers, in charge of by Mr. Meredith Williams, chairman of the local branch. At the graveside the Last Post” was sounded by Mr. Dan Bowen. The chief mourners were Mr. D Lewis (father), Mr. D. Ray (father-in-law), Messrs. D. Thomas, W. Evans, D. Evans and F Bye (brothers-in-law) and Mr. David Lewis (cousin). Floral tributes were received from the following: All his friends; Mrs. Richards 7 Mill- street; Mrs. Richards,1 Cotterill’s Lane; Mrs Mortimer, 2 Mill-street; Mrs. Richards, Cambrian Place; Mrs. Evans 34 King-street; Mrs. Williams, 32, Mill-street- and Mrs. Evans, Fountain Hall, Terrace.
I thought I would give you a brief “glimpse” into which countries have been visiting our website since we went “live” on July 4th last year. Here is the full list to date, which does not include of course the UK. It just goes to show the huge and worldwide audience such a small charity like ours has, and I hope that all who have visited us will have found the experience worthwhile.
Today is the 115th anniversary of the birth of my grandmother Elizabeth Jane Mayhook, (formerly Thomas) whose surname the charity takes it’s name from, who was born on September 23rd 1905. Memories of her remain very strong as in my childhood I spent many a time at my grandparents house which I remember with great fondness.
“Bessie” as she was fondly known as, was one of twins, her brother William Edward Thomas, the first born – at 12 Buckingham Place ,Carmarthen entered the world at 6am, to be followed by Elizabeth at 11pm that evening ! William grew to be 6ft 4″ whilst Elizabeth stature was a surprising 5ft. Sadly William passed away in July 1973 and is believed to be buried in St David’s Cemetery along with many other members of his family. Burial registers for this period appear to be missing unfortunately. Both William and Elizabeth were to be the first of another 11 children, the last two also being born as twins in 1917.
As we reach the end of our fifth year as a Registered Charity and five years of hard labour and determination, I am certain that my grandparents would be justly proud of our efforts in restoring dignity to all those who are buried in St David’s Cemetery. May they all rest in peace.
On Monday 7th September, on what was a most dreary wet and windy day, the cemetery was a hive of activity with the Chairman preparing for the restoration of an important historical grave at the end of the month involving the complete rebuilding, cleaning and re-naming of a stone kerb memorial which has remained in a dilapidated state for decades but soon to be seen again in all it’s glory and will once again become a fitting tribute to a remarkable man…more on this story will follow in a future update shortly.
What was particularly important however on Monday was the attendance of Mr Mark Timbrell of South Wales Utility Mapping who had undertaken to arrange and organise free of charge a Ground Radar Survey and a Topographical Survey of the cemetery which would be of immense benefit to the charity in the future. The results of the Radar Survey and the completion of the Topographical survey will be forwarded to the Trustees in the near future and mention must also be given to Shane from the world famous Swiss company Leica who also came down to carry out the radar survey using the most up to date computerised equipment in existence costing tens of thousands of pounds. To both of these gentlemen the Trustees are extremely grateful in offering their services without recompense. The importance of the survey’s cannot be underestimated as the CROSS OF SOULS location and it’s foundation will depend on the results of this survey. I will keep you posted on developments.
Dear Friends, you may wish to know that we have continued to mow the grass and strim those areas we cannot access with the 4 mowers on a regular basis, and have been grateful for the offer of assistance from volunteers wishing to help. As you can imagine, during the last few months it has been almost impossible to expect and indeed ask anyone to come and help but now that we are emerging from many of the restrictions during lock down I will be sending out a questionnaire by e mail to those with access to a computer and by letter to those who don’t, to establish what type of assistance can be offered, such as mowing, strimming, litter picking, weeding etc. No one would be expected to do more than an hours work and there will always be a trustee on site to supervise etc. It’s also important I think to be able to draw up a type of “Rota” if at all possible which then gives us a plan to work from.
I hope to send out the questionnaire next week. In the meantime do look at a new article I have included under the “Churchyard and Grounds” sub heading entitled “Grave Markers”. It’s only a short piece but very important to the history of the cemetery.
I am pleased to tell you that the rose beds are now beginning to flourish.
Five hours of mowing over the last two days has seen the grassed areas now looking particularly good and “patchy areas” have been re-seeded where soil restoration has taken place. The recent rainfall will help it to germinate and we look forward to having more grass to mow in the near future ! Having exercise during lockdown has taken on a new meaning but it’s all in a good cause.
I am also particularly pleased to tell you that this week we have uncovered yet another unrecorded memorial with an additional four names now added to the database memorial list. Clearly this slate headstone was already in the ground in 1977 and though the top of it is missing, all the relevant details are there. Four members of the JONES family together with two infant children. May they rest in peace.
The location of the memorial will now be plotted on the memorial map and it will remain in situ, though at ground level.
On mowing and strimming the cemetery this week and whilst continuing the ground restoration another slate headstone has come to light. Unfortunately it has some serious damage but the inscription is almost perfect. Some of the information is missing but with research this can be found quite easily.
There are two BEVAN’S families mentioned in the 1977 survey of memorials for St David’s and this one is NOT one of them, so this will be the first time in almost 50 years that their names will have appeared on the register of memorials and their names added to the list of those with a known grave. Also RACHEL CLARKE will be added to the list of names who is also mentioned on the slate headstone. Whilst it is of great disappointment that we find these memorials in such a condition, the fact that they have been buried for almost a half a century comes as no surprise. Finding them is the main thing, as then we can at least bring back some dignity to their memory. The location of the headstone where found will also be recorded and added to the memorial map of the cemetery before it is removed for safety to the perimeter wall.
It has been so hot this last few days making it hard going in mowing and strimming the cemetery grounds, but we have been keeping going none the less. All seven graves had their wooden poppy crosses replaced this week and an artificial poppy planted to give the graves some further dignity. They look very realistic – even close up, and don’t need watering !