Woking Asian Business Forum has been awarded £93,400 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, for a 2-year project aimed at exploring and documenting minority burial grounds in Brookwood Cemetery.

Unknown to most, Brookwood Cemetery is host to the highest concentration of minority burial grounds in the UK. Apart from a wide range of Muslim burial grounds, these include the first Zoroastrian burial ground established in Europe, as well as Swedish, Latvian and Serbian grounds, to name but a few. These burial grounds constitute an important part of Brookwood Cemetery, and they represent a unique cultural heritage that has so far remained undocumented.

That is what the WABF-led project aims to address. Working with Brookwood Cemetery, Surrey History Centre, Brookwood Cemetery Society and The Lightbox, the project will collect information concerning the history and rituals relating to the burial grounds, and ensure that this information becomes widely available. Accordingly, findings from the project will be available on the website ‘Exploring Surrey’s Past, managed by Surrey History Centre, and an app will be developed, enabling visitors to Brookwood Cemetery to access information about the minority burial ground while visiting the cemetery. Additional outputs include a documentary, an exhibition at The Lightbox, and thematic walks in Brookwood Cemetery, in collaboration with Brookwood Cemetery Society.

Woking Asian Business Forum has been actively supporting local communities since its establishment in 2007, and chairman Shahid Azeem is enthusiastic about this new opportunity for expanding on the ongoing work of the organisation: ‘We are very excited that the National Lottery Heritage Fund has decided to support this important project. Moreover, the project is very timely, as it supplements the ambitious plans for Brookwood Cemetery that Woking Borough Council has put forward recently’.

Commencing in September, the project will be managed by Woking-based social researcher Ole Jensen, working with local stakeholders and volunteers. More details about the project can be found at the website of Woking Asian Business Forum, http://www.wabf.org.uk/.