FOR years it was regarded as a blight on the landscape.
The graveyard at Lindley Methodist Church was so overgrown that relatives had difficulty finding the graves of their loved ones.
But that has now all changed thanks to the efforts of a group of young offenders.
The team has been working hard since the beginning of January to breathe life back into the graveyard.
The project was part of the Probation Service’s Community Payback scheme to help local community groups.
Sheila Taylor, secretary of the church council, said: “They have all worked tirelessly to bring life back into what was a huge overgrown graveyard.
“The church members are greatly appreciative of what they have and are still doing.
“It is now a real pleasure to wander through the graveyard and for some to at last be able to find the final resting place of their loved ones.”
In the past church members were relied upon for the upkeep of the grounds.
But as the graveyard expanded it became more and more difficult for them to keep nature from taking over.
Sheila said: “We would go and tidy it so often, but over the years as we have got older we just haven’t had the oomph to get it all done.
“We have tried to keep the four war graves clear but everything else has been a battle, the plants and brambles have taken over.
“It got to the point where we were getting complaints from relatives as they couldn’t get to the overgrown graves.”
In desperate need of help church members contacted the West Yorkshire Probation service about the scheme.
It gives participants the chance to pay back the public for crimes they have committed.
They spend thousands of hours on projects such as painting churches, litter picking, gardening and building work.
Organisers said that the church offered the kind of project they were looking for and since then teams in their teens and 20s have been helping out on a weekly basis.
Such has been the success of the scheme that new benches have been installed so that visitors can sit and enjoy their surroundings.
Sheila said: “You don’t think of graveyards being community places, but people can now come and sit down and enjoy a bit of me time.
“It’s lovely that they can sit there and enjoy all the quiet, and we’re still encouraging all the birds and wildlife.
“The team has done an absolutely cracking job and we are so grateful.
“They have been so keen to get involved and it’s lovely to see.
“Everybody deserves a second chance and I would encourage other groups in need of this kind of help to go for it”.