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JULIE HUSS/Staff photo Bryce Williams stands with his grandfather, John Williams, during a work day at Forest Hill Cemetery in East Derry. Bryce, 17, has taken on a gravestone restoration project as part of an Eagle Scout project.

DERRY — A historic burial ground is getting a lot of care, thanks to a local Boy Scout.

Bryce Williams, 17, a member of Londonderry Troop 1910 and a Pinkerton Academy senior, has taken on a gravestone cleaning project at Forest Hill Cemetery in East Derry as part of his requirements toward becoming an Eagle Scout.

The Eagle is the highest achievement a Boy Scout can attain.

Bryce began planning his Eagle work last summer, presenting his project idea to the Eagle board and giving details of how he would do the work.

"They really liked my idea," he said.

Under the guidance of Dorothy Goldman, longtime cemetery supporter and Friends of Forest Hill volunteer organizer, Bryce organized a schedule of work days to clean a section of the cemetery's older stones. Many of those stones date back centuries, and are now covered with dirt and mildew.

Bryce said he took on the Forest Hill project after suggestions were made by people at his church, First Parish in East Derry. The teen decided a stone cleaning project would help the cemetery with its upkeep and also keep history looking good.

"I know I didn't want to do something that involved construction," he said.

The the cemetery project seemed different, Bryce said, and would give him and his volunteer crew a chance to help the community and take part in history.

Sixteen people, including friends and family members, came to Forest Hill on Sept. 25 to help. Approximately 21 stones were cleaned toward Bryce's Eagle goal of 50 total. Another work day is planned for Oct. 2.

Goldman said Bryce's work complements the Forest Hill network already in place, through which volunteers "adopt" a gravestone or section of the cemetery to clean and maintain.

During Bryce's recent workday, cleaning efforts by his grandfather, John Williams, uncovered a detailed carving of a ship on a stone, something Goldman found very exciting.

"Look at the detail, I just get goose bumps," she said.

After the stones are cleaned and the Eagle project completed, Bryce said he had a few more merit badges to complete before he would receive the award.

Anyone wishing to learn more about Friends of Forest Hill or to adopt a gravestone can e-mail Goldman at Forest_hill_cemetery07@yahoo.com.

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