Double award for memorial group

Featherstone and District War Memorial Group
Featherstone and District War Memorial Group

A war memorial shrouded in years of controversy has picked up two community awards.

Featherstone and District War Memorial Group snapped up the ‘Best Neighbourhood’ and ‘Community Group’ gongs at Wakefield and District Housing’s (WDH) ‘Love Where You Live Awards’ regional heat.

Featherstone War Memorial

Featherstone War Memorial

The group was praised for its dedication to the project and maintaining the garden since it opened in 2008.

Gordon Barker, secretary of the group, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the awards. To get two first prizes is unbelievable and a testimony to all the hard work put in over five years by the group and its volunteers and all the other helpers.

“We are very lucky that we have tremendous support from local businesses and individuals and we would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our supporters, as without them we could not have won the awards.”

The group, which holds gardening sessions at the memorial every Friday morning, is now on the shortlist for WDH’s grand final which takes place in November.

Votes can be cast by visiting www.lovewhereyouliveawards.co.uk by October 25.

Sarah Chatham, WDH’s resident involvement manager, said: “Many people work hard to make our district such a great place to live, and our awards honour the very best.

“It’s really important for you to come forward, visit our dedicated website, and cast your vote to ensure these people receive the recognition they deserve.”

The war memorial group launched its £150,000 campaign in 2005 to build the gardens and the project was backed by councillors, the Royal British Legion and members of the community.

The garden – which has around 400 names inscribed on its walls – opened five years ago to great fanfare and honours those who died in the two World Wars.

But the memorial came under the spotlight earlier this year when ex-district and town councillor Roy Bickerton admitted falsifying invoices relating to the project while he was treasurer of the group.

The former town mayor walked free from court after pleading guilty to one charge of false accounting.

He was handed a 12-month conditional discharge for fabricating invoices totalling £5,700 to the Big Lottery Fund, which had helped fund the scheme.

The irregularity was put down to an ‘accounting muddle’.