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Published: 00:01, 25 November 2012 |
Updated: 09:43, 10 January 2014
While most 12-year-old boys are playing football with their friends or glued to computer screens, George Taylor is wandering around graveyards across Kent.
But it’s not some ghoulish hobby.
The Northfleet schoolboy has become the youngest recruit appointed by the Victoria Cross Trust to track down, record and monitor the graves belonging to Britain’s greatest war heroes.
The role was given to George, who lives in Coldharbour Road with his parents and sister, as part of the charity’s campaign to repair and preserve the burial plots of those awarded the most distinguished military honour.
Many of the graves have fallen into neglect because relatives are either unable to maintain them or are unaware they even exist.
The VC Trust now wants such graves to be given the same status as listed buildings.
The Victoria Cross is the highest award for gallantry that a British and Commonwealth serviceman can achieve and was created in 1856 during the Crimean War.
There are 29 Victoria Cross holders buried across the county, and George spends as much spare time as possible visiting each of them, giving priority to those in the poorest condition.
“The role involves me going and finding the graves, assessing their condition, taking a photo and then sending that to the VC Trust,” explained the Northfleet Technology College pupil.
“I find out the details of the person, such as when he was born and died.
"The trust will then see if they can get in touch with any of their families to see what can be done to keep them in a good state.
George and David are particularly keen to trace any surviving relatives of Victoria Cross hero Lt Col Arthur Drummond Borton.
The soldier died in 1933 and is buried in a cemetery in Hunton, near Maidstone.
“We know he was part of the London Regiment and involved in a lot of conflicts,” said David. “
David can be contacted on 07951 952424.
“If the families can’t help, the VC Trust then asks if it’s OK for them to keep them clean on their behalf.
“If they can’t find the family the trust will get in touch with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.”
The schoolboy’s interest in VC holders came about at the age of eight when he saw a story on television about a war veteran who was having to sell his medals to pay heating bills.
He then saw a picture posted on Twitter by the Royal British Legion of a VC holder’s grave in a poor state and became involved in fundraising.
“I was saying it shouldn’t be this way because the person had laid his life on the line for the country,” explained George.
“The VC Trust saw what I had said and got in touch and asked whether I wanted to be their Kent area officer.”
George, whose grandfather served with the Coldstream Guards, is also a member of the air cadets but hopes to be a policeman in the armed response unit.
His schoolfriends think his important role is “cool”, and the youngster also has the full support of dad David, 40, and mum Cheryl, 39, who accompany him on his visits.
“We visit the graves in Kent whenever we have any spare time. My dad drives and mum is the PA – and makes the tea,” joked George.
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