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Celebrating the work of our CWGC volunteers

Volunteers Week 2023 is a time to celebrate the amazing contribution made by our volunteers. Their support helps keep the memory of the fallen alive through a wide range of roles, dedicating hours of their time freely with passion and enthusiasm. There are many ways volunteers help and enhance what we do:

Archive Volunteers Programme

Our Archive Volunteers are crucial to helping us safeguard our collective memory which is comprised of records covering over 100 years of the Commission’s history. They help us to clean and rehouse paper files of correspondence and other documents, ensuring that these records can be better preserved and the information contained within can be retrieved by future generations.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, our Archive Volunteers continued to support us in cleaning up and expanding catalogue descriptions of the Commission’s meeting minutes remotely. This has helped to improve our catalogue information to be more descriptive, detailed, and accurate for researchers using the online archive catalogue.

Our volunteers have also been incredibly supportive in the roll-out of our Digital Asset Management System (DAMS) in 2021 by adding more meaningful and descriptive metadata to assets from our image library ensuring users can more easily find historical images as well as detailed and more accurate information about the images themselves.


10 Archives Volunteers since 2017

Over 1500 volunteer hours since 2017

Over 220 boxes of archival material repackaged since 2017

Full descriptions created for 80 sets of Commission meeting minutes
and uploaded to the online archive catalogue in 2020

Metadata for over 2000 historical images added on our
Digital Asset Management System (DAMS) since 2021

Sustainability Research Programme

Maintaining cemeteries all over the world presents a myriad of challenges and opportunities as we transition to more sustainable ways of working. To enable this, we have identified subject areas where we need to know more, to better inform decision-making and optimise progress. We have outlined a diverse range of research projects to help deliver this within our continually evolving Sustainability Research Programme. The research projects within this Programme are being steadily undertaken by our Sustainability Research Volunteers.


Our volunteers have completed research projects that will help us to combat climate change, protect biodiversity
and promote a circular economy. These projects include the following:

Assessing the predicted impacts of climate change at our sites in Europe, under different climate change scenarios
and timeframes

Identifying sites at most risk of flooding in Belgium and the Netherlands (now and in the medium term)

Reviewing and proposing the most appropriate carbon foot-printing tool for typical CWGC projects

Calculating the carbon footprint for the production and installation of a headstone, for a selection of stone
materials and transport routes

Researching the different methodologies global organisations are using to estimate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the purchase of goods and services, and capital goods

Mapping our sites in Belgium against the Natura 2000 Network (areas protected for their habitats and species)
and water protection zones

Desk-based assessments of biodiversity at selected sites in the UK

Reviewing the literature on how biodiversity at arid sites can be enhanced

Researching the alternatives available to using single-use plastic tree guards

Our Sustainability Research Volunteers continue to generate knowledge and collate information to support the decisions made as the Commission transitions to more sustainable working practices. In return, the volunteers gain experience in undertaking research within the field of environmental sustainability for an organisation that values their contribution.

Speakers and Tour Guides Programme

The Speaker and Tour Guide Volunteers are a really important part of the CWGC’s public engagement work. They help us to reach greater audiences throughout the UK to ensure that the stories of those we commemorate are told and that the public understand the work that the CWGC does. They help local communities to realise that there are war graves in their area, and that they are a part of their local history.


225 speaker volunteers

90 tour guides

19 university students as both speakers and tour guides

1292 talks delivered since October 2020

40 private tours delivered from 2022

367 public tours delivered in 2022

Over 1700 volunteer hours

Over 60,000 attendees at these events


The Eyes On, Hands On Project was created to allow our supporters to become a tangible part of the work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. They work in partnership with our teams across the country caring for the thousands of war causalities commemorated in our sites commemorated in scattered graves.

The EOHO volunteers have fundamentally changed the way the CWGC works allowing our skilled teams to be directed to the areas of need across the regions. We are all incredibly thankful for the tireless hard work, support, commitment, and hours that our volunteers offer the project. Every site report submitted, every photograph taken, and every headstone cleaned or cleared is much appreciated and helpful to the part we all play in commemorating the men and women who lost their lives in conflict.


With the support of our volunteers, we have now achieved:

2,133 volunteers

88% of all UK sites are now allocated to a volunteer who are completing regular inspections

24,979 site reports

179,742 headstones inspected by volunteers and images provided

50,208 headstones have been cleaned or cleared of vegetation

38,499 hours of volunteering activity reported

A reduction in complaints from members of the public regarding dirty headstones

The impact of the EOHO volunteers has far outweighed expectations when we launched in Oct 2020. Volunteers have not only allowed us to best direct our resources, but they have also improved the accuracy of our records identifying inaccuracies in our data. They have allowed us to respond quickly to concerns raised by the public and provided information in graffiti or headstone vandalism.

the Commonwealth War Graves Foundation

The Commonwealth War Graves Foundation (CWGF) is the charity of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC). It is the CWGF’s aim to keep the stories alive of those commemorated by the CWGC. This is achieved through delivering a range of education and outreach programmes.

We have very recently had three Office Volunteers join our team in Maidenhead, helping with the administration and mailings to our Members and Supporters.

We are incredibly grateful to our volunteers for the contribution that they make to our small dynamic team and for the time that they can give to our work each week. It was wonderful to hear from them why they wanted to volunteer with us – either due to a personal connection to the World Wars or for how strongly they feel about the work of the Commission and Foundation.


Since we have had the Office Volunteers join us, they have already contributed over 44 hours of activity to the
Foundation Team and have sent out hundreds of letters, membership packs and fundraising materials to
our supporters and members.

CWGC cannot thank our volunteers enough. Without their help we would not have had the capacity to reach
so many people and tell them about our work, and most importantly about the lives of the men and women
that we remember. They help us keep their stories alive.

If you are interested in volunteering with the CWGC, please check our volunteering web page for oppotunities in your area by clicking the button below.

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