AN EASTERN Green woman has been left devastated after St. Andrew’s Church failed to notify her before stripping relatives’ graves.
Barbara Baker was unaware of the church’s plans to clear the graves at the end of September and promise that the items would be ‘stored safely’, only to find items from her husband’s and daughter’s graves had been dumped by the side of the chuch.
Mrs Baker claims she did not receieve one of the letters sent by the church to notify those who attended graves about the upcoming changes in reglations regarding grave appearance, only reading an article on the grave clearing by chance after the deadline in the monthy local church newsletter, The Link.
Speaking about her upset at finding items from her family members’ graves dumped, Barbara said: “I went up there trying to find the things and was just crying all the time.
“My stuff was on the gravestones itself – it didn’t spill over onto the surrounding grass, so it wasn’t a nuisance to anyone else.
“I still have two items up there which I couldn’t find amongst the things which have just been dumped up there.
“They must have really gone to town on the graves to clear the stuff so quickly.”
The local resident, who runs The Golden Years social group for over 65’s, added that some people’s items have been broken or have even gone missing from the ‘safe storage’ at the side of the church.
A spokesperson from the Diocese of Coventry said that a letter had indeed been sent to Mrs Baker’s family but believed it had been sent to her daughter, who had been listed as her next of kin.
They were unable to give a reason as to why the letter bypassed Barbara or why her daughter had been designated the preferred contact for the family.
The Archdeacon of Coventry, the Venerable John Green, apologised for the hurt caused but reiterated that the chuch had done their best to contact affected families via letter and parish magazine asking them to politely to remove such items.
He added: “I am sorry that some people have been upset at the removal of unauthorised items from graves in St Andrew’s churchyard.
“It is regrettable if some families could not be contacted, and I’m sorry for any distress that this might have caused.
“From the outset, the aim of the Church Council has been to do the right thing for everyone in the community, and I support them in this.
“Nevertheless, as a diocese there will be lessons that can be learnt, and I will ensure that we do so.”
Mrs Baker said that had she recieved a letter the situation could have been made far less painful for her and her family, but also added: “The vicar is responsible, why didn’t he just invite us all to a meeting to explain what was happening before it went in letters or The Link?”
As reported in The Observer, the mass-clearing came after St Andrew’s received complaints about a number of graves and moved to make the churchyard “harmonious in appearance.”