The Restoration of Captain Graham's Grave
Captain George August Graham (1833 - 1909) played a pivotal role in preserving and promoting the Irish Wolfhound, and all those who derive pleasure from the breed owe him a debt of gratitude. Without his dedication and perseverance we would not today enjoy the privilege of sharing our lives with these magnificent dogs. His grave in St Mark's churchyard, Dursley, Gloucestershire, had become sorely dilapidated, and a campaign was launched by Dr Nicholas Wilkes (Strickenoak) and local historian Andrew Barton to raise funds to restore the grave, including replacing the memorial cross, and to locate any living descendants of Captain Graham.
Coincidentally, in 2009, the centenary of Captain Graham's death, new school buildings for Rednock School in Dursley were due to be opened. The school is built on the site of, and named after, Captain Graham's home.
Thus it was that on Friday 23rd October 2009, a group of Irish Wolfhound enthusiasts and their dogs, along with officials from the Irish Wolfhound Club, the Irish Wolfhound Club of Ireland, the Irish Wolfhound Club of Scotland and the Irish Wolfhound Club of Norway met Captain Graham's family at Rednock School, Dursley, Gloucestershire.
A service was held at St Mark's Church, Woodmancote, Dursley at 11.00 am, exactly one hundred years to the hour that he was buried. The service was especially poignant as the hymns and prayers were the ones from his funeral service. Dr Wilkes read Psalm 90 and Rory Webster, great-grandson of Captain Graham, gave the address. There were about twelve wolfhounds at the service and one felt that their presence was appreciated.
Following the service, the congregation, led by a piper, moved to the graveside in St Mark's churchyard and wreaths donated by the Irish Wolfhound clubs and the family were laid. Throughout it all the dogs behaved impeccably and looked magnificent, following the crucifer and clergy through the town to St James the Great Church to see the memorials from the family, namely a plaque and two stained glass windows.
A lovely buffet lunch followed, allowing everyone to chat to friends from home and abroad as well as Captain Graham's family and a representative from the Irish Guards. Sadly, the Guards were at Windsor practising for a state visit and were unable to attend.
At 2.00 pm we all congregated in the assembly hall at Rednock School, where Dr Wilkes illustrated to the school children the link between Captain Graham and the Irish Wolfhounds of today. Andrew Barton explained to the children the link between Captain Graham and their school, and Rory Webster told them about his great-grandfather who had been a very important member of the army and the community but who is remembered worldwide for his interest in dogs, and in particular the Irish Wolfhound.
The school had run a competition to see who could write the best poem about Captain Graham and the results were announced and the children who won read their poems and were presented with a certificate and prize money. We have asked the school if we can have copies of the poems so we can print them in our magazine.
Rory Webster unveiled the plaque in the school hall which explains that the old Rednock House (the home of Captain Graham) which is now knocked down is the site of their new school.
Finally, we all moved outside and the Mayor of Dursley unveiled the plaque to Captain Graham which sits at the entrance to the school.
It was a fantastic day and we must commend Dr Nicholas Wilkes and Andrew Barton for all their hard work.