Twin sisters have been united with the grandmother they never met in Rustington’s forgotten graveyard.
Mary Anne Luxford passed away aged 72 in 1932, shortly before her granddaughters’ births, and was buried in a cemetery near Brookside Avenue in Rustington.
When it fell to ruin, her resting place seemed lost forever. But thanks to a campaign to restore it, Mary Murkin and Ann Elliott have finally been able to properly pay their respects.
Mary, 83, laid a rose on the grave of her namesake, which has recently been unearthed as part of a memorial garden project. The great-grandmother from Whiteways Close in Wick said: “I am absolutely thrilled because I heard way back that the graves had been dug up and moved.
“It would have been nice to have given her a hug, because without her, we wouldn’t be here.”
Ann, from West Burton Lane in Bury, said their father did not talk about his parents so they do not know much about her, but added it was ‘lovely’ to be reunited.
There are 57 people buried at the site, including Mary and Ann’s grandfather Charles and their uncle Percy. It is the first time relatives have been reunited with a specific grave.
Conveyancing solicitor Sue Sula and historian Mary Taylor are behind the project. Sue said: “It is very emotional because this is what it is all about – for these people not to be forgotten.”
Mary began her quest in the 1980s because she knew the last man buried there and saw it was being used as a rubbish dump. She said: “I couldn’t stand it – I thought something had to be done. It is so rewarding that it is happening after all this time.”
Using plans drawn by Mary before the graveyard was bulldozed, Sue will mark out the grave sites and take an aerial shot of the land, which will be engraved on a plaque. The memorial may also incorporate the grave surrounds being unearthed.
On Saturday, Sue will be hosting an open day at the site from 10am to 4pm. To get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org.