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June 22, 2024 4:00 PM

Memorial unveiled at St Clements

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BY ALEX TIGANI

The unveiling of the new memorial outside St Clement’s Church sparked a range of emotions for those in attendance earlier this month.

The church was devastated by a fire in March, 2008.

Five years later a decision was made to create a memorial in the graveyard and on Thursday, July 2, the new feature was unveiled to the public.

For local Anglican leaders such as Singleton’s Reverend Michelle Hazel-Jawhary the gathering marked a pleasant day as social distancing restrictions continue to ease.

For others like Singleton Family History Society member Carol Garvie the ceremony provided some closure.

“The Camberwell community was very small,” Mrs Garvie told The Hunter River Times.

“But today had a sense of closure for me.”

Month’s prior to the fire, she had published the book ‘The Graveyard and It’s Stories: Camberwell District, St Clements Burial Ground, the Occupants and Their History’.

“My father and I would go out there and we would study the names in the graveyard and ask what who were they? And what did they do?” she continued.

“I would look them up on Trove and collect their stories and after a while I thought, we may as well collate them into a book.

“I have photos of each of the graves and there were convicts in the unmarked graves such as Charles Bates who was convicted in 1836.

“That is the sort of thing that I did, research on everyone that it there.”

The following year she would wake up to the news that a fire had devastated the structure of the church.

Her immediate thought was of her (then) 92-year-old father Mr Roy Smith.

“This was his church; he was brought up out there, his family was out there, and he was dedicated to the church,” she reflected.

“When I came around and got Dad it was early in the morning and it was devastating because we weren’t allowed in.”

He would pass away in 2012.

 His coffin would pass through the church before he was buried at Camberwell with 300 people in attendance.

Mrs Garvie hopes to continue to honour the lives of those buried at Camberwell, including her brother and her father, through an updated version of her book.

“Right now the updated version is on a memory stick,” she playfully concluded.

The final design for the memorial was chosen by passionate St Clements Parishioners Daphne Welsh and Thelma de Jong from a selection prepared by Partridge Bros.

The font from St Clement’s was included in the memorial to maintain links with the building.

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