Public Offenders Could be Selected to Restore Surrey’s Monuments

Public offenders could be made to help clean up Redhill’s war memorial before the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War.

The funding pot of £70,000 has been set aside to restore memorials all over Surrey. The members of the public have been asked to select the memorials that they believed needed the most attention.

There has been no money set aside as of February 19th for the repair of the memorial at Shaw’s Corner, when the Surrey Mirror reported this story. That particular memorial is on “to do” list.

Peter Bruinvels, the civilian military liaison for the Surrey County Council, said the scheme, which is being ran in conjunction with the deputy police and crime commissioner, Jeff Harris and the Surrey and Sussex Probation Service—would not only bring communities together, but help rehabilitate the borough’s offenders.

“It is about rehabilitation,” Mr Bruinvels told the Mirror. “But also there’s something in getting them [offenders] to remember the lives of the people on the war memorials and making them think about those people.

“When they see the names they’ll ask questions and they may even have a connection with some of the names on the memorial, which has happened before.”

He added: “What we want to know is which war memorials are of greatest concern to the public. We’re timing it with the First World War [anniversary] and they could be rededicated and re-blessed at the time of remembrance.”

In preparation for the clean-up Mr. Bruinvels and his team, which is still being put together, have been contacting council leaders across the county asking which memorials could do with a spruce up.

He said the scheme was not about relieving councils of their obligations, but working with them to make sure the restoration work was completed.

The scheme comes as Reigate and Banstead Borough Council begins its own work to restore about 200 war graves and the borough’s six war memorials, including those in Merstham and Banstead, in time for the summer’s celebrations.

Council spokeswoman Claire Lapping said: “The war memorial at Shaw’s Corner is to be refurbished, along with the boroughs other five memorials, as part of our First World War centenary commemorations.

“We are aware of the funding being made available by the PCC, but are yet to have discussions with them.

“If this is taken forward it will be over and above what we are already planning.”

Evette Champion

Evette Champion is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE