'All about communication' - families seek answers after memorials discarded

St Peter's Copdock - memorial items, church noticeboard and churchyard

Families who have lost loved ones want better communication for those that manage the churchyard at St Peter's in Copdock - pictures: removed memorial items, church noticeboard and the churchyard - Credit: Wendy Wyard

Families who have lost loved ones have hit out after personal mementos were removed from graves at St Peter's Church in Copdock, claiming it was "really insensitive".

Items including small wooden memorial crosses used to mark graves were removed and placed next to bins in the churchyard.

Families claim items were moved in the summer, and say there was a similar situation in 2019.

A sign on the church noticeboard outlines "prohibited items" - including plastic flowers, statues and ornaments - will be removed.

A notice put up at the churchyard at St Peter's Copdock explaining prohibited and permitted items 

A notice put up at the churchyard at St Peter's Copdock explaining prohibited and permitted items - Credit: Wendy Wyard

Responding to the criticism a spokesperson for the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich said: "Our churchyards are maintained by volunteers, who do their best to ensure that parishioners and other visitors enjoy a safe and peaceful environment, particularly if they have come to visit graves and remember loved ones." 

Wendy Wyard, whose father and mother are both buried in the churchyard at St Peter's, has received support from the community after she shared photographs on social media in which she said the churchyard "looks like it had been vandalised".

Memorial crosses and plant pots with engravings on them have been removed from graves at St Peter's Church in Copdock 

Memorial crosses and plant pots with engravings on them have been removed from graves at St Peter's Church in Copdock - names on cross edited by this paper so they are not visible - Credit: Wendy Wyard

Mrs Wyard, who is 63 and lives in nearby Wherstead, said: "The graves are well attended they are tended to by elderly people that are respectful of the rules.

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"These pots and memorials are treasured they do not expect them to be treated disrespectfully and, in some cases broken. Some of them are engraved with family members names."

She added that "It is lovely of volunteers to maintain the churchyard" but believes there needs to be better communication between the church and family members about when items may be removed to allow grass cutting or because they are prohibited. 

"It is about communication, all we want it a resolution," said Mrs Wyard, who has become frustrated by a lack of response from the church and other local organisations. 

The churchyard at St Peter's in Copdock

Wendy Wyard said the churchyard at St Peter's in Copdock looked "barren" after personal mementoes and flowers were removed - Credit: Wendy Wyard

Continuing their statement, the spokesperson for the Diocese said: "All our churchyards are subject to the same 'churchyard rules', which have legal authority and restrict what can be put or done in a churchyard and which allow the local church to remove unauthorised items. 

"Clergy, churchwardens and parochial church councils try hard to manage their churchyards in a sensitive and caring way under these rules."

They added: "It is always regrettable when misunderstandings arise about the rules and how they are applied." 


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