Stunned by ‘forest’, Trelawny expat adopts Martha Brae Cemetery
Shocked at the run-down state of the four main cemeteries in Trelawny, a Jamaican expatriate has committed to clean the burial ground in her hometown of Martha Brae because of the failure of municipal authorities.
Judy Doctor, who lives in the United States, said she was so stunned by the unkempt condition when she visited the tomb of her father, former Trelawny cricketer Vincent Doctor, in June that she paid out of pocket to have the cemetery cleaned up.
“I could hardly find a place to walk. It was a forest of trees and shrubs,” said Doctor. “I arranged and paid to have the whole cemetery cleaned, so when Wendell Stewart died recently, he was buried in a freshly clean cemetery,” she told The Gleaner, referring to the former member of parliament for North Trelawny who passed away on November 10.
“I was at his interment and heard several persons expressing delight at how clean the cemetery was. One woman said it was the first time in several years that she has seen the cemetery this clean,” the now Virginia resident said.
Doctor revealed that in her initial bid to clean the cemetery, she was almost the victim of a scam.
“They wanted to charge me US$5,000 to clean it. I know it was in a bad condition, but that amount of money was a rip-off,” Doctor said of an official with whom she was directed to liaise.
She subsequently made an arrangement with Phillip Service, councillor for the Martha Brae division, to have the cemetery cleaned every three months “at an affordable cost”.
Service expressed appreciation for the kind gesture.
“The money which the municipality collects from people who pay for grave spots is far too little to maintain the cemetery and pay staff,” Service told The Gleaner.
The councillor pledged to move a resolution at the next monthly meeting of the Trelawny Municipal Corporation to redirect some revenue earned from market fees to maintain the cemeteries.
The four main Trelawny burial grounds are located in Martha Brae, Duanvale, Duncans, and Falmouth.