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New ‘Circle of Life’ Memorial Garden for Cranleigh

Published on: 19 Jun, 2017
Updated on: 20 Jun, 2017

The opening of the new memorial garden near Cranleigh.

By Kay Newnham

A Cranleigh woman has put the heart and soul of her family into a memorial garden on the outskirts of the village.

The Oakfield Memorial Garden – situated between Cranleigh and Shamley Green now has “A Circle of Life” at its centre.

Vanessa Ford, who once lived a stone’s throw from the natural burial ground, saw a long-held vision come true when the Deputy Mayor of Waverley, Denis Le Gal and the chairman of Cranleigh Parish Council Mary Foryszewski joined friends and the garden’s creators, for its official opening on June 10 (2017).

As a producer and director, Vanessa’s work in the world of theatre is well documented, with most of her productions staged in the West End. However, the opening saw a very different side of Vanessa as she explained, to a large gathering, why her latest creation was so important.

Her late husband had benefitted from a donor heart at the Papworth Hospital, in Cambridgeshire, the hospital that pioneered heart transplant.

When her 28-year-old son Alexander, died suddenly in 2013 and was laid to rest in the woodland, the seed was sown – and she craved to create something of longevity – somewhere relatives could sit, away from the heat of the sun, or the rain, and reflect on their memories.

My son became a donor, and saved the lives of five people, friends and family wanted to give flowers, but I told them I want something more, and this inspired me to create a – Circle of Life – in the heart of this beautiful countryside burial garden.

The circular oak structure represents the “Circle of Life”.

The circular oak structure (pictured here) and the shingle cedar tiled roof which she helped tile with her own bare hands, is framed by circular dry stone walls and gardens that will grow and flourish in the years to come. Services could be held there in the future and Oliver Peacock a very supportive director of the– Woodland Burials said – “I think it is a beautiful idea.”

He said it was with great pride he had attended the event saying the garden had provided a really lovely focal point where family’s can meet and remember. This is a first for us, we don’t generally have structures on our sites – but when Vanessa came forward with her idea we just thought it was an excellent thing to do.”

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