and church respond to
'grave desecration' concerns
or vandals have been blamed for removing flowers marking the locations
of cremated remains in a Burnham-On-Sea churchyard.
reported on Monday
how Burnham resident Alex Turco, pictured, was left angry after
ceremonial plants left next to his father's grave - along with
five others - in the Garden of Remembrance outside St Andrew's
Church had been removed.
appeared that workers from Sedgemoor District Council, who maintain
the ground, may have mowed over the plants - but the council strongly
denied on Monday that this has happened.
Adrian Gardner, the council's Group Manager of Environment and
Strategic Housing, said in a letter to Mr Turco: "I visited
the Garden of Remembrance this morning with the Area Supervisor,
Keith Cann, from our Clean Surroundings Service to investigate,
and I was also able to speak with Reverend Witts."
"There are three issues: firstly, the removal/damage to
the Echeverias plant at your father's grave; secondly, the removal
of other plants and flowers along one side of the Garden of Remembrance;
and thirdly damage to a small tree marking one corner of the Garden
"With reference to the damage to the small tree, the small
tree has been damaged, but it appears that the stem was broken
some months ago. The tree is in very poor condition and Reverend
Witts indicated that the tree, and one other, were to be replaced
in the Autumn. There is no suggestion that the ground maintenance
team caused this damage."
to the removal of plants and flowers along one side of the Garden
of Remembrance, the strip of ground in question is not maintained
using a lawn mower because of the risk of damage to the grave
markers. This area is cut using a strimmer."
"Whilst the main areas of grass in the cemetery were cut
last Wednesday, this particular area of grass has not been strimmed
yet. The Supervisor and the operatives are adamant that they have
not removed any flowers or plants from this area, and this would
seem to be the case, given that the strimming has not yet been
"I do agree there is evidence that some plants have been
removed, but I have no explanation as to who is responsible. I
do not believe that these flowers were removed by council staff.
Reverend Witts did advise me that the churchyard regulations do
not permit planting at graves, or the use of gravel chippings
to mark graves. He also noted that there were problems with badgers
in the churchyard and wondered if animals could be causing damage
"Our Supervisor has spoken to the two operatives that were
cutting the grass last Wednesday. These are the operatives that
always maintain the churchyard, and they are very familiar with
the areas that must be strimmed. They have been previously instructed
only to strim around graves."
"From my investigation, I do not believe that the Councils
staff have removed or damaged the plant. However, I have no explanation
as to what has happened to it."
St Andrew's Church vicar, Reverend Graham Witts, told Burnham-On-Sea.com:
"The churchyard regulations have been in effect since 1999
and state that no flowers etc should be planted into the
ground. The Church Council recognises that this is a sensitive
issue, yet we cannot change matters for pastoral reasons."
"The Church Council is mindful of the problems of the churchyard
and is issuing a leaflet through the local funeral directors about
these matters. We shall also send copies to the families of those
with loved ones in the churchyard. The brochure will clearly set
out the regulations. The vicar, churchwardens and Church Council
sincerely regret any upset regarding this matter."
Alex told Burnham-On-Sea.com on Monday evening: "I am very
grateful to Sedgemoor District Council and the Church for their
very prompt and efficient response to my concerns over this unpleasant
"I find the suggestion that all the plants could have been
eaten by badgers to be unlikely. Vandalism would be deeply upsetting.
This Garden of Remembrance is a clearly marked piece of the churchyard
where families can pay to have cremated remains interred. Headstones
are not allowed owing to listed building restrictions. Therefore,
the removal of tributes whether by accident or otherwise is emotionally