Choir to host benefit concert for vandalized cemetery

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Members of St. Thomas Youth Choir have a special connection to the St. Thomas Cemetery.

The cemetery is across the street from St. Andrew’s United Church, where the choir rehearses.

“This is a cemetery that our (choir) comes through and wanders through during their breaks because they rehearse . . . at St. Andrew’s,” said Kim Gadsdon, treasurer of the youth choir.

So when the 16 choir members returned July 14 from a trip during which they performed in churches in Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City and learned vandals had toppled 25 headstones and a bench at the cemetery, they decided to help.

The choir is performing a benefit concert Sunday to raise money for the cemetery that will have to spend $1,500 repair the damage.

“We felt compelled to do something,” Gadsdon said. “It’s just an opportunity to right the wrong that we see.”

Proceeds from the concert will go to the cemetery’s maintenance fund.

Karyn Harris-Paschink, co-president of the youth choir, said the damage hit home for choir members, most of whom are aged 12 to 18 years old, after their trip.

“Just coming off a tour where we’re in all these sacred places. . . The (choir) recognizes it as a very important place.”

The choir usually performs two concerts a year, one in June and one at Christmas. Every other year it goes on a tour.

The headstones and bench were toppled July 13 in the afternoon, cemetery manager Lesley Buchanan said.

She had just finished a walkthrough of the cemetery on West Avenue when she was told of the vandalism, the worst damage since 2002.

“It’s almost like somebody had followed my path across the cemetery and knocked them down,” she said.

Buchanan believes more than one person is responsible.

“If you look at some of these monuments, there’s no way it could be one person, no way.”

If You Go

What: St. Thomas Youth Choir benefit concert

Where: Old St. Thomas Church, 55 Walnut St.

When: Sunday, 7 p.m.

Tickets: Donations accepted

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