A Luton father is demanding answers from cemetery managers after his son’s graveside was disturbed and a wooden cross went missing.
Martin Coombes wants to know why the cross, with his son’s plaque on, and the edging around the grave were removed from the plot at the Church Burial Ground, Crawley Green Road. Martin’s stillborn son was buried there in 2000.
His daughter went to lay flowers on Friday, October 4, and found the wooden cross and edging had been removed and the plot had been disturbed. She told her dad when he returned from holiday.
He said: “We went to the grave in the summer and it was fine, everything was in its place.
“My daughter went a few weeks ago, on the anniversary of my son’s death, and she found these things missing and the damage to the edging.
“She waited until I got back to tell me, I went up there last week to try to find the wooden cross, it is very personal to us, it is the only thing with his name on.
“We found it with about two dozen more crosses under a tree on an old grave.
“I want to raise awareness of what has happened, as some families may not know that the crosses and other items from the graves have been removed and several graves have been erased and the ground is now flat.
“This should not have happened and it is not right.
“I don’t think it is vandals because they were all together in one place.
“I would like the management who look after the cemetery to explain what has happened; there might be a genuine explanation.
“But it just seems a bit strange. They weren’t tidying up because they would have cleaned up the whole area, which has not been done.”
A spokesperson for the Trustees of Luton Church Burial Ground said: “There have been no recent works in Luton Church Cemetery other than routine grass cutting.
“This regular maintenance takes place under the trustees’ regulations.
“The regulations include provision for the removal of unsafe or unauthorised memorials or objects on graves to a safe place.
“The burial is in a part of the cemetery where the trustees are not in contact with relatives because the grave was acquired by a third party.
“The trustees have no means of contacting the relatives, however the regulations, for the good of all users of the cemetery, still apply.
“It does happen that wooden crosses or memorials can decay or fall over and impede mowing, obstruct access and create a potential danger to visitors.
“It is the responsibility of the family to ensure that memorials are maintained and safe. Otherwise, they have to be moved, along with any unauthorised objects, so that mowing can take place and so as to remove potential hazards. This is the most likely reason for the moving of the cross.
“There is no intention to cause distress to families and mourners, quite the opposite – the cemetery is managed to provide a safe and well-kept environment for the benefit of all who visit.”