My parents' memorial was removed from cemetery
Published on: 15 Nov 2017
by Rebecca Day
A Filton resident has been left distraught after South Gloucestershire Council removed a memorial vase from his parents’ headstone at Filton Cemetery.
Michael Smith, of Shellard Road, realised that the vase had been taken when he struggled to find where his parents were in the Garden of Remembrance – the cemetery’s area for cremation caskets.
He told the Filtonvoice that he was shocked when he discovered that the vase, which was book-shaped with inscriptions, was no longer there.
It had been removed by the council as part of their efforts to make improvements to the area and reduce health and safety risks, following a number of reported incidents.
Mr Smith tried looking for the memorial in the piles where the council had placed other items, including plant pots, sculptures, and small ornaments, but he had no luck.
He also sent a photo of the vase to the council, but he is still waiting for it to be discovered.
Mr Smith told the Filtonvoice: “It’s disgusting what the council have done. They took something that doesn’t belong to them and have just thrown it all into a pile.
“When I first went up there after they had tidied up, I struggled to find where my parents were.
“The council says that it was for health and safety reasons, because items were in the walkways, but the vase was on top of the headstone – it wasn’t in the way at all.”
He added: “I go up there once a month to put something on my parents’ grave, so they know I’m still thinking of them.
“I didn’t see any sign to say that the council was planning to tidy up the garden.”
Signs were put up in August by the council, informing visitors that cemetery staff were going to be removing any broken or unused vases from the headstones on October 18.
A South Gloucestershire Council spokesperson said: “We apologise to Mr Smith for any distress that this incident has caused to him and his family, and we have written to him to offer our sincere apologies.
“Mr Smith has this week kindly provided us with a copy of a photo (taken in July 2011) showing the items that he wishes to reclaim. We are currently in the process of identifying his items and will be contacting Mr Smith asap to arrange returning the items to the grave. The first signs advising of the tidy up around the cremated remains section were erected on site in August.
“These signs gave notice that in mid-September we would be removing any broken or unused containers and carrying out a general tidy up.
“Once the initial work was carried out new temporary signs were erected to provide contact details for anyone wishing to reclaim any items that may have been removed from their grave.
“We will be holding all items for a minimum of a year to allow time for infrequent visitors to reclaim items should they wish to do so.”