Congratulations to Alison our feature Volunteer of the Month for May, 2020! Alison has added nearly 58,000 photos to Find a Grave, almost all of which are grave photos. Much of her work is done in the largest necropolis in the southern hemisphere, Rookwood General Cemetery in New South Wales, Australia.
Alison’s been researching her family tree since 1984 and has always had a fascination with cemeteries and headstones. Find a Grave brought her family research and interest in cemeteries together. She started by adding her family members and then ventured into fulfilling photo requests. She was hooked!
Rookwood General Cemetery is located on 780 acres. Yes, really! Over the years, creating her own maps of various sections has helped her keep track, making photographing and organizing a bit easier. One can see some of the challenges for this location through these headstone photos, Maria Christie and Eliza Hinder. While photographing at this cemetery, she and another Find a Grave member crossed paths and became great cemetery friends. With a cemetery that large, it was meant to be! Now, they work together not only in Rookwood but in other cemeteries around the Sydney area as well. Alison says, “It’s a bit of an addiction and when one section is finished, I feel satisfied and proud of the job we are doing.” She loves the community feel of the site and says it’s all worthwhile when someone takes the time to send a message of thanks for a photo of their loved one.
These personal stories give you a glimpse into Alison’s delightful sense of humor!
Rookwood has a lot of wild-life living in its confines including rabbits, lizards and apparently snakes. I am lucky…I have never seen a snake at Rookwood but I have this nightmare of lying in some far-flung area of the cemetery having been bitten by the highly venomous brown snake, trying to call the emergency services and describing where I am. “Yes I’m in section 10 of the Anglican cemetery at Rookwood.” I’m sure they would have no idea! Kaz & I now carry a first aid kit after a few incidents with minor injuries. My most recent one was when I fell into a grave. I know that sounds like it was a freshly dug one but no, it was an old grave and I was cutting overhanging branches in order to get “the shot” when I lost my balance & fell headfirst into the grave. Luckily I didn’t hit my head on the headstone. Just a few scratches and a good story!
Our accolades to you for your extraordinary work in cemeteries! We are so glad that you are a Find a Grave member and appreciate all your efforts in recording and memorializing those that have passed.
We welcome your suggestions for Volunteer of the Month. If you’d like to submit a volunteer for consideration in future months, please send an email with details of their work to firstname.lastname@example.org.
-Find a Grave Team