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Tidying Britain’s graves

455. Jenny Barsby

A journalist from Kent set up TendaGrave, a free website which connects people who need help tending a family grave with others offering assistance.

The altruistic website provides a free service for people who cannot, for whatever reason, tend a family or friend’s grave. It puts people in touch with someone offering to tend a grave in the area, meaning a loved one’s grave will be lovingly looked after. Members are also asked to offer to tend a grave in their own local area in return.

Jenny came up with the idea for TendaGrave shortly after her grandmother sadly died in 2005. Her grandmother was buried with her grandad in Suffolk, over 100 miles away from Jenny’s home in Kent. Initially Jenny’s best friend, who lived only a couple of miles from their grave, would put flowers on and tidy it up. However, after she moved to Australia, there was no one able to tend the grave.

After putting a note asking for help in the church and not receiving any offers, Jenny realised that she was probably not the only person in this situation. Wanting to help others with similar difficulties, Jenny came up with the concept of TendaGrave.

It took a few years to make the idea a reality, but in 2011, Jenny was able to launch the TendaGrave website. Over 1,200 people are now registered on the site and people have been helped from all over the country and further afield, including a family who live in Spain.

Jenny hopes that the site can bring some comfort to people who have lost a loved one but aren’t close enough to their final resting place to show that they still think about them often and still care. Users are asked to register their location and how often they are able to help, as well as about the grave they need help with tending. Once matched, tenders can discuss logistics such as delivering flowers, with the idea that no money changes hands.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Being unable to tend the grave of a loved can be very distressing. Jenny has created an innovative way to unite people who don’t live near their families’ graves with local volunteers who are able to help them. TendaGrave has given peace of mind to many families. I am very pleased to be able to recognise Jenny as the UK’s 355th Point of Light.”

Jenny said:

“I am over the moon to have received this award. I set up the site because I felt there must be people who were in a similar situation to me but had no idea it would be so well received. I am touched by some of the lovely emails from our members and also how much comfort it can bring, both to those who need a grave tending and also to those who just enjoy helping other people.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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