Barnardo's 'children' remembered with special memorial

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Barnardo's 'children' remembered with special memorial

Hundreds of impoverished children buried in unmarked graves have been honoured with a special memorial.

A £10,000 Portland stone sculpture depicting a pair of hands releasing a symbolic cockney sparrow will be unveiled at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park in east London.

The two-metre memorial - carved by Tom Nicholls - is a tribute to 513 so-called "Barnardo's children" who were in the charity's care.

They were buried at the Victorian cemetery between 1876 and 1924, but despite having proper funerals they did not receive headstones.

Irish philanthropist Thomas Barnardo, who founded the charity, survived on a shoestring to care for destitute children and there was no money for memorials.

Barnardo's started as a school for poor children in London's east end and went on to become a network of hundreds of orphanages across the UK. It now offers counselling and other vital services to more than 200,000 of the country's most vulnerable children.

Among those set to be honoured by the carving is Violet Beckett, who died in 1909. She spent just a few months in Barnardo's care after being orphaned aged six.

The money for the sculpture was raised by former Barnardo's resident Jean Clark, who said her efforts had been a "labour of love to give these children the recognition they deserve".

She added: "As someone who grew up in Barnardo's care, I regard them as my brothers and sisters and wanted to ensure their lives are recognised."

Barnardo's chief executive Javed Khan said: "This remarkable project has been made possible by a group of dedicated, passionate volunteers, particularly Jean Clark who has single-handedly raised the funds required to bring Tom Nicholls's beautiful creation to life.

"The incredible work of the volunteer heritage team is also to be commended. They have spent several years searching through burial records for the names of the children concerned, so that they can have a fitting memorial in the form of this stunning sculpture."

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