Mohamed Omer from Gardens of Peace Muslim Cemetery
Against all the odds the Trustees of the Gardens of Peace have transformed wasteland into a beautiful and sustainable burial ground.
The story of the creation of the Gardens of Peace is one of gentle heroism.
The shortage of burial space in and around London is of great concern to many, and particularly to those faiths that forbid cremation.
The Garden of Peace Cemetery was originally a concept devised by a small group of people within the area that was able to identify an available piece of barren land and gain planning consent for a cemetery.
The small group enlisted others to form a Trust/registered charity and commenced the purchase of the land and its initial design. This was not without many problems in relation to the land itself being waterlogged, fly-tipped and in an appalling condition. A polluted stream also ran through the site.
There was also some local opposition and one instance of serious vandalism in the early days. Notwithstanding this the Trustees pressed on and were able to overcome these early difficulties. It should be noted that the Trustees sought no funding from the public purse and hence the project is a true community venture.
Donations were received from the community that enabled the laying out of the cemetery and the erection of buildings, all of which have strong environmental benefits, for example:
- The buildings are constructed of natural timber and are as open as possible
- The largest building roof has a green roof so that neighbours’ view is pleasant.
- Buildings are clad to reduce noise.
- Water is provided from a borehole.
- Buildings are heated via solar panels.
- Extensive landscaping to protect the green belt and wildlife and natural habitat
- All the burials are conducted without the use of coffins.
- Graves are covered with a sedum mat giving a natural country look rather than graves.
- All the excess spoil is recycled using a soil grading machine
- The once polluted stream that was void of any life at all received detailed attention to a point where plants and wildlife had re-established themselves. Unfortunately the stream was polluted by a business upstream, however the Trustees simply started again and restored the situation.
Recognising the need for support for Muslim Women who lose a child at any stage, Gardens of Peace set up Muslim Bereavement Support Service and work closely with all the national organisation as well as NHS so that spiritual bereavement support can be provided to mothers of the Muslim faith.
The Gardens are run entirely by volunteers headed by a lady Muslim GP.
Runner up in this category: Higher Ground Meadow