Only one bunch for mourners

GRIEVING relatives today accused church officials of being petty and not compassionate - after being told they can only leave one bunch of flowers by the memorial to their loved ones.

By Georgina James

GRIEVING relatives today accused church officials of being petty and not compassionate - after being told they can only leave one bunch of flowers by the memorial to their loved ones.

Fresh flowers left in memory of loved ones are being removed from the garden of remembrance at St Peter and St Paul in Ferry Road, Felixstowe because they violate church regulations.

The families of sisters Elizabeth Osborne and Mary Baldwin whose ashes are scattered in the garden have spoken of their disbelief at the church's lack of compassion.

Sharon Palmer, Mrs Osborne's daughter, said: "All we want is to come here and leave flowers but each time we do they are removed because we have used more than our one allocated pot.

"I can't believe how petty they are being. We honestly believed that a garden of remembrance was a place where we could visit to take comfort and bring flowers to our much loved and missed Mum and auntie.

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"A little bit of flexibility and perhaps some understanding is all we ask for. We have the best interests of the garden in our hearts as the people we love the most are resting here."

The family says it now regrets scattering the ashes here and feels the strict rules were not made clear.

Mrs Palmer of Falkenham near Felixstowe, points out that at certain times of the year, especially Mother's Day, there is going to be more than one person who would like to leave flowers and one small urn supplied by the church is not sufficient.

"Flowers left at Mother's Day were removed and I thinks that's disgraceful," said Mrs Palmer.

Margaret Smart, Elizabeth's and Mary's sister, is also upset that her sisters plaques could not be placed on the same section of wall despite there being plenty of room.

"All these rules have really upset me. What with the plaques and flowers I have decided that I no longer want my ashes scattered here and am changing my will."

The Reverend Peter Lawrie says the rules are necessary in order that everyone can use the garden and that no one family dominates the area.

"I realise there's a problem here but it's very difficult with the existing facilities and space.

"I understand the family's concern but at the end of the day the rules drawn up were explicitly explained to them before the ashes were scattered and each next of kin agreed to them."

Ivan Osborne, Elizabeth's husband, said: "I can't believe they wouldn't even allow the two plaques placed together. There is plenty of room and it seems they are just being awkward.

"There are so many do's and don'ts it's ridiculous."

n What do you think? Should this church be more compassionate. Do you know of any other restrictive rules and regulations at churchyards?

Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30, Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or by e-mail to:

n In the meantime, bids are being invited from today for a national competition celebrating Britain's best cemeteries.

The Cemetery of the Year awards are designed to recognise the country's leading resting places and crematoria.

Now in its fifth year, the competition includes a new category for the first time for smaller cemeteries.

Entrants will be judged on a range of criteria, from presentation to provision of facilities.

Jeannie Wyness, co-ordinator of the awards, which are sponsored by the Confederation of Burial Authorities, said: "The aim is to reward the people who work in the industry.

"It is also to encourage higher standards and make the public aware that they are often beautiful and tranquil places.

"We hope the new category for smaller cemeteries will encourage more parish cemeteries and churchyards to enter."

Prospective entrants are asked to call Annie Wyness on 020 7463 2020 by Friday, April 26.

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