A ‘family’ reunion

Christiansborg War Cemetery

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Did you know?

Location:
Accra, Ghana

Altitude:
14m

Biggest Challenge:
Spread out team

Language:
English

Rainfall:
809mm

Temperature:
22c - 32c

A staff get together sounds like a simple enough job. You can meet up with some of your colleagues and exchange stories, tips and tricks.

For the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s team in West Africa, a meeting is a truly international undertaking. It involves linking gardeners who normally work more than 1,500 miles apart.

For some, it was the first time they had ever left their home country.

But that’s just what we did, in the fresh green surroundings of Christiansborg War Cemetery, in Ghana. Gardeners and caretakers from as far away as The Gambia and Nigeria huddled around to learn from some of our in-house experts.

This is the practical reality of how you make cemeteries on every continent except Antarctica have the same look and feel. You have to get together and talk.

Horticultural excellence doesn’t happen by accident. The Commission has a wealth of experience in its workforce and that experience must constantly be passed down and shared.

This was our first African conference on this scale, and the hosts were our gardeners in Accra, the capital of Ghana.

The lush plant life they look after was a great example for their colleagues from further afield. Vegetation grows incredibly quick in this part of the world and needs constant, careful attention.

In Nigeria, thanks to improvements to infrastructure, we will soon be able to introduce border planting, bringing more colour and life to our cemeteries there. Showing those staff first-hand what they will soon need to do was an invaluable experience.

Inevitably, between training, our teams get talking. Sharing jokes, friendly competition about whose site looks best, and the obligatory stories of their commute; a two-day drive, a first-ever time on an aeroplane.

One Gambian gardener begins to recall how he followed in his father’s footsteps to join CWGC seven years ago. In the words of Saihou Sanyang himself, it’s not just a staff get together.

“We are one family.”

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