Heartbreak over grave rules crackdown at Huntington Cemetery, York

A WOMAN says she was heartbroken after discovering that strict grave rules were to be enforced at a York cemetery where both her mother’s and her son’s ashes are buried.

Diane Dowker claims the ruling by Huntington Cemetery Committee will ‘destroy’ her mother Leonora Ainsworth and son Dan Myers’s plots, which she only completed in November.

She said she only discovered about the changes by chance when she was visiting the cemetery just before Christmas and spoke to an elderly gentleman who visited his wife’s grave on a daily basis, who informed her about a committee letter on a notice board. 

Referring to ‘personal items that have been left next to headstones,’ the letter said that rule 10 in the cemetery rules stated: “No glass or pottery receptacles or solar lights, and only ones that can be sited within the plinth. No containers to be placed on the turfed area.

York Press: Leonora Ainsworth and Dan Myers' graves at Huntington Cemetery, where rules are now being strictly enforced Picture: Diane DowkerLeonora Ainsworth and Dan Myers’ graves at Huntington Cemetery, where rules are now being strictly enforced Picture: Diane Dowker (Image: Diane Bowker)

“No other forms of memorial, palisading, kerbing, chipping or lights are permitted and if found will be removed by a member of the burial authority.”

The letter went on: “Unfortunately, due to several complaints of the condition of the cemetery, the committee have made the decision to actively enforce rule 10, with the exception of children’s graves.

“We understand this is upsetting news and will like to reassure the families concerned the decision was made with careful thought and consideration for all users of the cemetery.”

Mrs Dowker said she just broke down and cried when she read the letter, and the elderly man was heartbroken as well. “This has really made me ill,” she said. “I suffered from bad anxiety and depression to start with.

“It has caused me to have a relapse, as I was just starting to recover from a recent episode.”

York Press: Diane Dowker (right) pictured with her late mother Leonora AinsworthDiane Dowker (right) pictured with her late mother Leonora Ainsworth (Image: Diane Dowker)

She said there would be people like her who walked past the board, without giving it a second thought, and had no idea what was happening. 

“My plots are enclosed and cause no problems for the gardener whatsoever,” she said.

“They are kept tidy and clean. Flowers only to be permitted in a pot that is built into a headstone. I can’t afford two new headstones. Apparently you can keep flower pots on a child’s grave; well Dan was 23, but he was still my child.

“I really am heartbroken. My family and I are still grieving. This decision has totally ruined my Christmas and New Year.”

Diane Geogheghan-Breen, chair of Huntington Parish Council and Huntington Cemetery, said: “When purchasing a plot at the cemetery, everyone is given copy of our rules which outline what can/ cannot be put on a grave; this can also be found on our website.

“We have been contacted by a number of people who visit the cemetery saying they are concerned that some people are not following the rules and are making cemetery look untidy.

“We do employ a groundsman who maintains the cemetery and he has reported that people are not following the rules and are making it very difficult for him to keep the cemetery looking tidy.

“We are not asking anyone to buy a new headstone simply to put a vase on the plinth and not on the grave.

“We have no wish to cause any distress to anyone who has loved ones in the cemetery but the Rule 10 is there to ensure the cemetery is kept in a dignified and respectful condition.”

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