THE final resting place of York citizens of yesteryear is about to have a facelift after local residents launched a special task force.

People in Bishophill have banded together to form a community gardening group, and are to renovate the old churchyard of St Mary’s Bishophill Senior, opposite the Golden Ball pub in Cromwell Road.

Group organiser Pete Kilbane said: “My neighbour Brian Thornton and I were idly talking one day about the underused and uncared-for open spaces in the neighbourhood, like the old churchyard.

“We thought it a good idea to try and get a community gardening group off the ground to brighten the place up. So we put out a few leaflets and over 30 people turned up to the first meeting.

“The community engagement has been amazing and we now have more than 40 people in the group. And the knowledge and skills that they bring is incredible.”

The church was demolished in 1963 and, until now, the churchyard has been maintained by the city council, but it has become overgrown in places in recent years. The group has now begun drawing up plans to make it more enjoyable for local people and held a meeting last Wednesday to discuss ideas.

The group intends to pick out the boundaries of the old church and turn it into a feature, before carrying out further improvements.

Mr Kilbane said the Archdeacon of York, the Ven Richard Seed, had been “fantastic” and said the city council was also very supportive.

He said: “Obviously we need to respect the fact that it is a graveyard and an important archaeological site – so no digging too deep or planting vegetables. But that perfectly suits the desire of the local community for a patch of land that we can slowly improve for people to enjoy and to encourage wildlife.”

Mr Kilbane said the project was very exciting, but said the group had to borrow equipment due to a lack of funds. He has appealed for anyone able to lend a petrol strimmer or gardening tools such as box rakes.

Anyone able to help, or who would like to get involved in the project, is asked to phone 01904 632933.