CHILDREN from primary schools have been working together to brighten up a cemetery after graves were accidentally damaged by a car.

Youngsters have been planting flowerbeds in Meadowfield Cemetery, near Durham, using thousands of pounds raised by the community after the incident earlier this year.

Residents were initially angry as the car which caused the damage has been reported stolen and it was thought a car thief was responsible for destroying several headstones, plinths and benches.

Police recently concluded their investigation and have established the damage was caused accidentally by a grieving man whose car got stuck in soft ground at night.

Judith Hodson, headteacher at Brandon Primary School, said: “A lot of the pupils have talked about the fact they have got relatives who are buried here and so it is a nice opportunity for them to link in with their local community.

“We had a non-uniform day to raise some money when we heard the cemetery has been damaged so they have all contributed in that way as well.”

St Patrick’s Primary School, Browney Primary School, Woodland Nursery at Meadowfield and Pathways from Durham County Council also took part.

Graham Lynas, community champion at Tesco at Langley Moor and other businesses in the area started a fund to improve the graveyard after the incident in April.

Benches have been installed and on Thursday the store supplied a picnic to keep kids going while putting bedding plants in.

Store manager Jay Holmes said: “They have all been helping to make it look a bit more attractive.

“It has been brilliant. The community has really come together, and what better way than to get all of the local schools in the area involved.”

Jamie Donnelly, who runs Cathedral Gardening Services, offered to put the beds into the cemetery for free and spent the day with children showing them how to plant the flowers.

He said: “I have been teaching them how to plant properly.

“They have been well behaved and listened and took it in.

“It has been great.”