Kind-hearted volunteers have cleaned up a forgotten war memorial in the hope that more people will come and pay their respects.
The Stone Revival team clean and restore graves on behalf of Victoria Cross Trust and a number of local authorities, including Doncaster Council.
The hard-working team spent the day at Arksey Cemetery, Station Road, cleaning a war memorial dedicated to the people who lost their lives in World War Two in a bombing accident in Bentley.
Gary Stapleton, chairman of the Victoria Cross Trust, said: “This war memorial belongs to the people of Doncaster, but not many people know it’s here.
“By cleaning it, we are hoping it will bring more people in to pay their respects.”
The team use a DOFF cleaning system, a machine which sprays a small amount of water at a low pressure and a temperature of 150C.
Due to the lack of water and pressure, there is no damage to the stone.
The machine, which costs between £7,000 and £8,000 to buy, was funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government.
It is thought to be the only one in use in South Yorkshire.
“It was recommended to us by National Association of Memorial Masons, who said it was the best thing we could use,” said Gary. “The machine is used to clean the Commonwealth graves in France and Belgium because it’s so good. It’s also used to clean cathedrals and other ancient buildings.
“It’s quick and eco-friendly and because there are no chemicals it doesn’t destroy the stone.”
The team sought permission from Doncaster Council before going ahead with the cleaning, which took around five hours to complete.
They have also been given the go-ahead to clean a miners’ memorial at the same cemetery, which is dedicated to the people who lost their lives in a 1931 pit disaster in Bentley.
Gary hopes that once the memorials are both clean it may encourage schoolchildren to visit.
“To me, this is not just a place where we bury dead people, it’s a map of Doncaster’s social history.
“You can find out so much about the people who used to live here, where they lived, their jobs.
“This is somewhere that should be explored by children, obviously with respect.
“Every school in Doncaster has WW2 on the curriculum, but how many have been to visit these graves?’’
The volunteers also offer their services to people who want their loved one’s gravestones cleaned.
All funds raised through the service will be given back to the Victoria Cross Trust.