TENDING to the graves of forgotten soldiers in Hyde Cemetery has become a personal crusade for pensioner Ron Andrew.
He can regularly be spotted tidying up the gravesides of more than 40 servicemen who fought in the two World Wars in Hyde Cemetery.
Today his outstanding dedication will be recognised nationally, when he will be named as the recipient of a new Point of Light Award.
Mr Reynolds, who met with “inspirational” Mr Andrew to congratulate him on his award, said:
“Mr Andrew makes a tremendous effort to ensure the graves of these servicemen are properly cared for – and I am delighted that his work has been recognised.
“His work in the cemetery not only shows respect for those individuals who served in the World Wars, but his research will ensure their contribution is recognised for years to come.
“I believe Tameside is a better place to live because of people like Mr Andrew, who selflessly give up their time for others.
“And I hope the Point of Light award will encourage others in Tameside and beyond to consider how they could volunteer to improve the communities where they live.”
Mr Andrew, aged 84, and a former member of the Royal Artillery, began looking after the graves following the death of his wife, May Elizabeth, three years ago.
On a regular visit to the cemetery he happened upon the unkept grave of Lance Corporal Joseph Collier, who served with the Lancashire Fusiliers and who died a month after returning from World War Two.
And it was after cutting back the overgrown grass on Lance Corporal Collier’s grave that he noticed the graves of others who had served in the two World Wars.
Now Mr Andrew regularly tends to the graves of around 40 ex-servicemen in the cemetery, including a boy soldier who died at the age of 15.
He puts Poppy crosses on their graves for Remembrance Sunday in recognition of their contribution and he has even researched their histories in the hope that they will never be forgotten.
The new Points of Light awards are designed to recognise outstanding volunteers, who are making a real change to their communities.
They have been developed in partnership with the Points of Light programme in America. Mr Andrew’s award was announced today by Prime Minister David Cameron.
Mr Andrew’s contribution has previously been recognised by the Mayor of Tameside Council and by The Poppy Factory.