MORE than 50 people answered the prayers of a Rowley Regis vicar and turned out to help clear his overgrown churchyard.

Rev Ian Shelton was full of praise for the hard work of helpers spanning across the age groups and from every corner of the community.

Parents and grandparents, children, allotment holders, landscape gardeners, Muslims, MP James Morris and representatives from waste company Serco and Keep Britain Tidy got to work in St Giles churchyard on Saturday.

Preparatory work had been started on Friday by the Armstrong Explorer Scouts and 1st Rowley Regis Scouts clearing waste ground which the church plans to develop into an area for cremated remains to be buried.

The grass around the graves in the large churchyard had grown out of control because the usual grass cutters, offenders from the Community Payback Scheme, had been unable to attend earlier in the season due to staffing shortages.

The grass had rocketed to 6ft high in places and was too much for the largely elderly congregation to tackle.

Although the payback team had done some work there in the last few weeks, there was still plenty to do and Rev Shelton was grateful for the community effort.

He praised the volunteers for their “sheer hard work” which had made a “real difference”.

Rev Shelton added: “We were joined by a workforce of willing help from the Ahmaddiyya mosque, who put in tremendous effort raking and clearing up.

“They were truly Good Samaritans, helping us to restore dignity and respect to the overgrown churchyard.”

“Our local MP, James Morris, joined us, rolled up his sleeves, and did sterling work with a wheelbarrow.

“Our thanks to all who helped make a difference in the space of a morning and afternoon - many said they'd like to come back another time to help.”