Holbeach cemetery ‘clean-up order’ leaves mum in tears

Sharon Rudd beside the graves of her son, Kyle, and his great-gran Dorothy Cook. Photo: SG270116-100TW
Sharon Rudd beside the graves of her son, Kyle, and his great-gran Dorothy Cook. Photo: SG270116-100TW
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A mum burst into tears when a note was left on her toddler son’s grave saying she must remove ornaments left there – or the parish council would do it.

Sharon Rudd (44) lost her toddler son, Kyle, in September 2003 when he was just 16-months-old.

I am just trying to get them to look at how they are hurting people

Sharon Rudd

His grieving family have left tiny tributes on his grave, including two ornamental ducks because he loved to feed ducks, but Holbeach Parish Council wants to sweep everything away so it’s easier for its staff to mow the grass.

Shocked families have been arriving at the graves of loved ones over the last few days in the Park Road and Hall Gate cemeteries to find blunt warning notes (pictured below) pinned down by tent pegs.

Families have reacted with anger and sadness, a petition has been launched, and parish council chairman Isobel Hutchinson revealed a threat of violence was made against clerk Chris Seymour, whose name appears on the note.

Mrs Rudd, a director of Terry Rudd Motorcycles, said: “I went on Sunday and found the note on Kyle’s grave. I cried. I really cried.”

She says the parish council told her there should be no artificial flowers, only fresh flowers, and none of the ornaments that mean everything to her family and her little boy would have loved before he died.

“I am just trying to get them to look at how they are hurting people,” she said.

Kyle, who died from an intracranial haemorrhage after contracting a virus, is buried near his great-gran, Dorothy Cook, who treasured him – and there’s an identical council note on her Park Road Cemetery grave, too.

Mrs Rudd spoke to council officials on Monday, who said they would look at Kyle’s grave.

She said: “They rang me back and said I have got to take four or five ornaments off him.”

Mrs Rudd says there’s a block of marble on Kyle’s grave that takes vases and the council says it shouldn’t be there.

“I am not taking it off him,” she said. “If they (the council) remove it, God help them.”

She says her husband Mark (42) already mows the grass around the family graves so council mowing shouldn’t be an issue.

Another mum, Becci Holden, wrote on social media that a note was left on the grave of her stillborn baby, Millie Elizabeth, who was laid to rest in Hall Gate Cemetery on July 24, 2013.

She urges residents to sign a petition and says “people choose to grieve their own way, whether it’s putting solar lights down there or teddies”.

Coun Hutchinson said notices went up in the cemeteries in late summer warning residents of impending council action to remove objects that contravened the rules after October 31. She said: “We have given them plenty of time to remove items that are contravening the rules and the rules are there for a reason.”

Coun Hutchinson said rules allow a headstone and a vase set within the headstone, but “nothing on the actual grave itself because, obviously, the mowers go straight across the top of the grave”.

She said ornaments might be acceptable to one family but not another.

“It’s a very emotive subject and that’s why there are rules about what you can and can’t put down there,” she said.

She believes the council will revisit the issue on a case-by-case basis if residents make contact.

Coun Hutchinson said it isn’t acceptable for threats to be made against staff who are carrying out decisions made by the council.