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Visitors to Dereham cemetery left distressed after items from graves wrongly removed

PUBLISHED: 11:19 11 February 2018 | UPDATED: 11:19 11 February 2018

Vandals have struck Dereham Cemetery. Picture: Ian Burt

Vandals have struck Dereham Cemetery. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2017

Visitors to a Norfolk cemetery have been left distressed after a member of grounds staff removed items left on loved ones’ graves.

Vandals have struck Dereham Cemetery. Picture: Ian Burt Vandals have struck Dereham Cemetery. Picture: Ian Burt

The Dereham Town Council has issued an apology to the families and friends of those who have been affected by the “honest mistake” made by a member of staff earlier this month.

Items including toys, vases and flowers were removed by the member of staff who was supposed to be removing Christmas wreaths which should no longer have been on graves.

David Walker lives in London but grew up in the town, and takes his mother Gwen to his father’s grave every few weeks.

Mr Walker said: “My father was buried in the cemetery 12 years ago. When we visited on February 3 we noticed the flowers and vase had been removed from his grave.

“It’s upsetting for people, my mum’s 85 and was married to my Dad for 50 years. His grave has never not had flowers on.

“It really upset her for the whole weekend.”

Mr Walker, 54, returned to the site the following day with his mother.

He said: “That’s when we saw a council trailer filled with the items, flowers and toys and such like.

“I would’ve thought as a member of council staff the individual would’ve been more sensitive.”

The council has been proactive in attempting to rectify the problem.

Tony Needham, Dereham Town Council’s clerk said: “This is not council policy, this was an honest mistake by a junior member of staff who got a little over enthusiastic.

“We have already bought 20 vases which fit into graves so that when people come to our offices we can help straight away. We will also refund any items which were incorrectly taken.”

It is thought that of the 5,000 graves in the cemetery, a few hundred will have been affected.

“We expect more people to start coming in now that Christmas is over, and we offer our apologies to anyone who was affected by this,” the clerk continued.

Should anyone have been affected by this incident, the council is asking enquiries to be made by calling 01362 693821.

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