A monument to more than 500 children cared for by the charity of Irishman Thomas Barnardo has been unveiled in an east London cemetery.
The two-metre-high Portland stone sculpture was designed by Tom Nicholls, who helped decorate the Queen’s Jubilee barge.
It depicts two hands releasing a sparrow and stands proudly in Tower Hamlets Park Cemetery in Bow.
Hundreds of Barnardo’s children were buried there between 1876 and 1924. They were all given proper burials but, due to the financial constraints placed on the charity, they were not given headstones.
Barnardo, who founded the first of his homes in 1867, buried three of his own children – Tom, Herbert and Kenward – at the same site.
The £10,000 required to pay for the sculpture was raised by Jean Clark who was helped by Barnardo’s as a child.
“It’s been a labour of love to give these children the recognition they deserve.
“As someone who grew up in Barnardo’s care, I regard them as my brothers and sisters and wanted to ensure their lives are recognised,” she said.
Chief executive of Barnardo’s Javed Khan added: “This remarkable project has been made possible by a group of dedicated, passionate volunteers, particularly Jean Clark, who has single-handedly raised the funds required to bring Tom Nicholls’s beautiful creation to life.
“The incredible work of the volunteer heritage team is also to be commended.
“They have spent several years searching through burial records for the names of the children concerned, so that they can have a fitting memorial in the form of this stunning sculpture.”