SCHOOL leavers have been working with veterans to clean up memorial stones dedicated to First World War veterans.

Sixteen and 17-years-olds from Bolton, Bury and surrounding areas helped to clear leaves, grass and dirt from memorial and graves at Bacup Cemetery.

The Rossendale cemetery is home to 135 simple stone markers commemorating veterans which were laid by Veterans In Communities (VIC), working with Prince’s Trust volunteers, two years ago. Some only had keystones with initials and a number and many had been hidden over time.

Since the project finished, the stones became covered by leaves and grass so the young volunteers from the National Citizen Service (NCS), based at the Masonic Hall in Bury, were challenged to clean them up in time for Armistice Day.

Working with VIC, the project used the book Where Heroes Rest written by local historian Wendy Lord, information from the Commonwealth Graves War Commission and cemetery maps from Rossendale Borough Council to identify the graves.

Kian O’Brien, aged 17, from Bolton said: “These are people who fought in the First World War. I feel better about myself for helping the community and helping people out.

“Those soldiers fought and died for us and they are being respected in death. I saw one stone which remembered someone who was only 17; it is sad to see that someone of that age died in the war, but it shows how brave they were.”

The teenagers are also laying out memorial white crosses with poppies and will hold a simple service of remembrance.

The project is being managed by VIC member Mick Armstrong. He said: “The team have been working really hard to make sure all the stones are cleaned in time for Remembrance Sunday for all the families.”