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Outrage as personal items removed from loved ones’ graves at North Walsham cemetery

PUBLISHED: 13:35 14 November 2017 | UPDATED: 09:49 17 November 2017

Personal belongings have been removed from graves at North Walsham Cemetery leaving grieving relatives and friends upset and angry.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Personal belongings have been removed from graves at North Walsham Cemetery leaving grieving relatives and friends upset and angry. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

Residents in North Walsham have been left angry and upset after their town council removed personal items placed at graves, without notice.

Personal belongings have been removed from graves at North Walsham Cemetery leaving grieving relatives and friends upset and angry. Hayley Wright next to her son Ryan's grave.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY Personal belongings have been removed from graves at North Walsham Cemetery leaving grieving relatives and friends upset and angry. Hayley Wright next to her son Ryan's grave. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

North Walsham Town Council moved in to take away flowers, plants, angels and other ornaments from the graves at the cemetery off Bacton Road earlier this month, citing ‘heath and safety reasons’.

But relatives of those interred at the site say they were not told of the action until afterwards, and the items had been stacked next to a fence in a corner of the cemetery.

Town resident Hayley Wright, 37, lost her 22-month-old son Ryan four years ago after he suffered a cancerous tumour called a neuroblastoma.

Mrs Wright said she was shocked to find the angel, scarecrow and potted plants she had left there had been taken away. She said: “How dare they? I was absolutely devastated. It felt like I’d lost my son all over again.”

A photo of Ryan Wright's graves at North Walsham's cemetery, before the personal items were removed. Picture: Courtesy of Hayley Wright A photo of Ryan Wright's graves at North Walsham's cemetery, before the personal items were removed. Picture: Courtesy of Hayley Wright

Another resident, Gareth Ducker, 37, said the council had ‘refused’ to send someone to talk over the removals with residents in person.

He said: “It’s outrageous that they can get away with this - whoever decided on it needs to stand up and explain themselves to us. They could have at least given us 14 or 28 days’ notice, but there was nothing.

“These are people’s loved ones and its still very raw for a lot of people.”

Gillian Farrow, 68, from North Walsham, said: “I think it’s disgusting. They took some spare pots off my mum’s and dad’s grave. It’s worse than what a vandal would do.”

A photo of one of the graves at North Walsham's cemetery, before the personal items were removed. Picture: Courtesy of Sean Smiles A photo of one of the graves at North Walsham's cemetery, before the personal items were removed. Picture: Courtesy of Sean Smiles

And Sean Smiles, also from the town, said: “The things people put there were like the last tributes to loved ones. We were devastated.”

But a statement issued by the town council said the items were “inappropriate”.

The statement read: “Unfortunately it has become necessary to apply our regulations more stringently in the town’s cemeteries in order to ensure that we offer a safe and accessible area that meets our obligations and our duty of care.

“Action has been taken concurrently with the issue of letters to rights holders due to a number of hazards and discovery of items that were inappropriate for a place of remembrance and respect.”

Personal belongings have been removed from graves at North Walsham Cemetery leaving grieving relatives and friends upset and angry.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY Personal belongings have been removed from graves at North Walsham Cemetery leaving grieving relatives and friends upset and angry. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

A petition has been started to protest the council’s actions.

A council spokesman said anyone wishing to discuss additional grave ornamentation may do so by calling the office on 01692 404114 to make an appointment.

Amendment

Personal belongings have been removed from graves at North Walsham Cemetery leaving grieving relatives and friends upset and angry.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY Personal belongings have been removed from graves at North Walsham Cemetery leaving grieving relatives and friends upset and angry. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

This article originally attributed the town council’s comments to North Walsham’s mayor, and not to the council as a whole, as was intended. We apologise for any upset this has caused.

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