Bereaved mum’s distress at holiday let idea for cemetery chapels
Trustees of a committee set up to preserve the future of Holbeach Cemetery Chapels say they did not want to upset people following reaction to a public survey.
Holbeach resident Jenny Allen, whose daughter Lucie-Rose Loveridge is buried in the cemetery in Park Road, said she was shocked to learn that one of the ideas suggested for the South Chapel was to turn it into a holiday let.
For many, the cemetery is a sensitive place and the trustees are always willing to discuss any issues with members of the community
Trustees say that it is just one of the options being put forward for the heritage site but that it is very early days and they understand that this is a sensitive subject.
Lucie was born with her heart on the wrong side of her body and appeared to be defying the odds as she reached her first birthday.
“She blossomed into such a beautiful girl,” Jenny said, “always very small and fragile but she had more spirit than most people. She never sat down and loved being outside. Every person she went past in the streets she would say hello to and always got smiles.”
But sadly, Lucie died just before her second birthday after undergoing open heart surgery to correct a secondary problem.
Jenny said: “Our hearts broke. We lost our angel and life was never going to be the same for us again.
“On December 3, 2001, her second birthday, she was laid to rest in Holbeach Cemetery. We chose that site as it is beautiful, lots of wildlife running around and although it is in the centre of town, the peace and serenity is so apparent.
“Receiving that email (the survey) has brought so much emotion back and I’m truly horrified that these options are even being proposed by the Holbeach Cemetery Chapels Trust.
“It seems very disrespectful to anyone who is interned there. I appreciate that upkeep to the chapel must be costly and that money needs to be found from somewhere, especially with government cuts, but to propose a self-catering holiday let or a function room feels very inappropriate.”
The three suggestions on the survey for the South Chapel is to turn it into an event/venue space, a self-catering holiday let, or a workspace/office let. The North Chapel is proposed to be turned into a multi-use space with café facilities.
Trustee Gill Graper, speaking for the Holbeach Cemetery Chapels Trust, said: “We know that for many people in the Holbeach area the cemetery is a sensitive place and the trustees are always willing to discuss any issues with members of the community.
“Our long term aim has always been to refurbish and renovate the Grade 2 Listed chapels so that they do not fall into disrepair and become derelict, which would then have a distressing impact on people who value the dignity of the cemetery.
“The survey is a public consultation exercise that we have to carry out if we are to make a bid for funding from Heritage Lottery to refurbish the chapels.
“At present three options are being suggested – these having been discussed with an expert in the refurbishment of heritage sites. We are in the very early stages of market research and value everyone’s opinions. In all the options there is the facility to have at least one of the chapels dedicated to being a heritage area/facility.
“It is very important to the trustees that we take into consideration the views of people in the local community. We have valued the support and interest of so many people during the past year who have attended workshops, open days and special events at the chapels.”