5,000 sign petition started by mum of stillborn son calling on council to change graves decoration policy

Catherine Board at her baby son Brandon's grave. She has handed a petition in to Torfaen council against new grave decoration policies.

Catherine Board at her baby son Brandon's grave. She has handed a petition in to Torfaen council against new grave decoration policies.

First published in News
Last updated

A CWMBRAN mother has presented her local council with a petition of more than 5,000 signatures calling for changes in its grave decoration policy.

Mother-of-seven Catherine Board whose stillborn son is buried at Cwmbran Cemetery, spearheaded the campaign which led to the petition against the cemetery regulations. She presented the petition to Torfaen council in chamber yesterday morning.

Problems started when policy which has been established for a number of years, was suddenly enforced by Torfaen council, who asked relatives of those buried in the authority’s four cemeteries to remove certain personal items. The council said items such as stone chippings, windmills, solar lights and wind chimes were not permitted.

The online petition, titled: “Torfaen council: Leave our children’s resting place alone”, had 5,013 signatures which were collected in just four weeks.

Ms Board, of Thornhill, said: “Everyone is absolutely disgusted and don’t think it’s right. It’s about why they are enforcing it now, when they never have up until now.

Ms Board’s son was buried 10 years ago and she has been visiting his grave ever since. Around his grave are chippings, a fence, toy cars, garden gnomes and other mementos. But now added to these items is a sign, aimed at council officers, which warns that if anything should be taken from the grave without her permission, they are liable for prosecution.

On June 12, we reported how mementoes left on the grave of a week-old baby at Panteg Cemetery had been sent to landfill.

Ms Board said: “I go up as often as I can, but at the moment I’m going up every day to make sure it’s not been wrecked.

“I’ve been breaking my heart every day about it. I’m worried sick about turning up and stuff going. There’s sentimental value behind it.”

The Cwmbran mother admitted she’d been overwhelmed by the support. She said: “We didn’t expect that many (signatures). We’ve had people from as far as America signing it.”

Independent Torfaen councillor Elizabeth Haynes has endorsed the petition from the beginning and was delighted with the response.

She said: “It’s a phenomenal amount (of signatures) which shows the strength of feeling.

“I believe there are some inconsistencies as some graves have been stripped and others haven’t.

“I welcome the fact the leader of the council has suggested that a member seminar take place to discuss graves personalisation and he apologised for any distress to residents.”

A Torfaen council spokesman said: “The petition has been received and will now be passed to the executive member for neighbourhood services for his consideration. A decision on whether to amend the existing policy will be made after the summer recess.

“A member seminar on the council’s cemetery policy will be held at the end of July, and this is open for the public to attend.”

Comments (12)

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12:17pm Wed 25 Jun 14

username2 says...

Cemeteries should be places for somber reflection, not tacky, gaudy trinkets.
Cemeteries should be places for somber reflection, not tacky, gaudy trinkets. username2
  • Score: 16

1:46pm Wed 25 Jun 14

-trigg- says...

If the council were to change the rules for grave decorations to "anything goes" as these people appear to want, I can guarantee that the resulting petition against would have far more than 5000 signatures on it.
If the council were to change the rules for grave decorations to "anything goes" as these people appear to want, I can guarantee that the resulting petition against would have far more than 5000 signatures on it. -trigg-
  • Score: 3

3:58pm Wed 25 Jun 14

screamladyt says...

'These people' I am one of those people and having a child in this cemetery I do not see that its a somber place, there babies children what is somber about that? All things bright and beautiful just because are children are dead does not meen that we should just not bother! Those tacky trinkets meen something to someone or someones child have some bloody respect! Each of you are allowed your opinion but really these are our children dont be so horrible!
'These people' I am one of those people and having a child in this cemetery I do not see that its a somber place, there babies children what is somber about that? All things bright and beautiful just because are children are dead does not meen that we should just not bother! Those tacky trinkets meen something to someone or someones child have some bloody respect! Each of you are allowed your opinion but really these are our children dont be so horrible! screamladyt
  • Score: 4

4:35pm Wed 25 Jun 14

Woodgnome says...

Opinions seem to be miles apart and never the twain shall meet. We are talking of public cemeteries here that need some rules. Torfaen Council have an impossible job. The solution is that those who want highly decorated cemeteries should lobby for private ones so the cost of maintenance doesn't fall on the public purse. There is likely to be a high cost however. I predict there would be barely any take up at all.
Opinions seem to be miles apart and never the twain shall meet. We are talking of public cemeteries here that need some rules. Torfaen Council have an impossible job. The solution is that those who want highly decorated cemeteries should lobby for private ones so the cost of maintenance doesn't fall on the public purse. There is likely to be a high cost however. I predict there would be barely any take up at all. Woodgnome
  • Score: -1

6:10pm Wed 25 Jun 14

-trigg- says...

It is one thing to have a few tasteful pieces to mark the site, perhaps an ornate headstone or a bunch of flowers.

However, some of these grave 'decorations' are so over the top that the owners may as well turn up at a stranger's funeral dressed as a clown and handing out balloons for all the respect they're showing to other users of the cemetery.
It is one thing to have a few tasteful pieces to mark the site, perhaps an ornate headstone or a bunch of flowers. However, some of these grave 'decorations' are so over the top that the owners may as well turn up at a stranger's funeral dressed as a clown and handing out balloons for all the respect they're showing to other users of the cemetery. -trigg-
  • Score: -7

7:00pm Wed 25 Jun 14

manager111 says...

If you really need to have a shrine, please use your own garden or living room, you can even have the ashes in the bedroom.A cemetery is a public place, not just for people with tacky ornaments, which a dead child will never see.
If you really need to have a shrine, please use your own garden or living room, you can even have the ashes in the bedroom.A cemetery is a public place, not just for people with tacky ornaments, which a dead child will never see. manager111
  • Score: -5

9:33pm Wed 25 Jun 14

screamladyt says...

Hummm what lovely people you must be and I dont have ashes my child in buried in the plot of land I own and paid for! What is tacky to you is precious to someone else and clearly u havent buried a child of your own to think the way you do. 'A dead child will never see' you say? Well you pir children are not dead to us hench we try to keep the garden well I speak for myself I try to keep my child alive bright and happy if you walk around the cemetery its been left to fall to ruin and you moan about the closed of baby garden really...
Hummm what lovely people you must be and I dont have ashes my child in buried in the plot of land I own and paid for! What is tacky to you is precious to someone else and clearly u havent buried a child of your own to think the way you do. 'A dead child will never see' you say? Well you pir children are not dead to us hench we try to keep the garden well I speak for myself I try to keep my child alive bright and happy if you walk around the cemetery its been left to fall to ruin and you moan about the closed of baby garden really... screamladyt
  • Score: 5

12:33am Thu 26 Jun 14

HMarie says...

I wouldnt bothet wasting yout breath, the people commenting are the same trolls who comment on all the articles on here and have done nothing but post small minded insensitive comments on every article regarding this matter. They are foul people!
I wouldnt bothet wasting yout breath, the people commenting are the same trolls who comment on all the articles on here and have done nothing but post small minded insensitive comments on every article regarding this matter. They are foul people! HMarie
  • Score: 10

2:00pm Thu 26 Jun 14

-trigg- says...

screamladyt wrote:
Hummm what lovely people you must be and I dont have ashes my child in buried in the plot of land I own and paid for! What is tacky to you is precious to someone else and clearly u havent buried a child of your own to think the way you do. 'A dead child will never see' you say? Well you pir children are not dead to us hench we try to keep the garden well I speak for myself I try to keep my child alive bright and happy if you walk around the cemetery its been left to fall to ruin and you moan about the closed of baby garden really...
Unless your child was buried in a private cemetery, I'm afraid you don't own the plot. You have purchased a lease on that piece of land for a set period but it continues to be owned by the council and must be used in accordance with the rules, as laid out within the terms of the lease. These rules include restrictions on the type and degree of decorations that are permitted.
[quote][p][bold]screamladyt[/bold] wrote: Hummm what lovely people you must be and I dont have ashes my child in buried in the plot of land I own and paid for! What is tacky to you is precious to someone else and clearly u havent buried a child of your own to think the way you do. 'A dead child will never see' you say? Well you pir children are not dead to us hench we try to keep the garden well I speak for myself I try to keep my child alive bright and happy if you walk around the cemetery its been left to fall to ruin and you moan about the closed of baby garden really...[/p][/quote]Unless your child was buried in a private cemetery, I'm afraid you don't own the plot. You have purchased a lease on that piece of land for a set period but it continues to be owned by the council and must be used in accordance with the rules, as laid out within the terms of the lease. These rules include restrictions on the type and degree of decorations that are permitted. -trigg-
  • Score: -12

5:13pm Thu 26 Jun 14

xxamy89xx says...

manager111 wrote:
If you really need to have a shrine, please use your own garden or living room, you can even have the ashes in the bedroom.A cemetery is a public place, not just for people with tacky ornaments, which a dead child will never see.
how dare you say that!! i to have had a stillborn i think your comment is disrespectful, a cemetery is a public place your correct but family members find it comforting to decorate our childrens forever beds in a way we would like!!! your comment is going to upset many people, Its not about them seeing it its about us are parents finding comfort in doing so!!
[quote][p][bold]manager111[/bold] wrote: If you really need to have a shrine, please use your own garden or living room, you can even have the ashes in the bedroom.A cemetery is a public place, not just for people with tacky ornaments, which a dead child will never see.[/p][/quote]how dare you say that!! i to have had a stillborn i think your comment is disrespectful, a cemetery is a public place your correct but family members find it comforting to decorate our childrens forever beds in a way we would like!!! your comment is going to upset many people, Its not about them seeing it its about us are parents finding comfort in doing so!! xxamy89xx
  • Score: 7

5:14pm Thu 26 Jun 14

xxamy89xx says...

screamladyt wrote:
'These people' I am one of those people and having a child in this cemetery I do not see that its a somber place, there babies children what is somber about that? All things bright and beautiful just because are children are dead does not meen that we should just not bother! Those tacky trinkets meen something to someone or someones child have some bloody respect! Each of you are allowed your opinion but really these are our children dont be so horrible!
i agree with you 100% some of the comments on here are so upsetting!
[quote][p][bold]screamladyt[/bold] wrote: 'These people' I am one of those people and having a child in this cemetery I do not see that its a somber place, there babies children what is somber about that? All things bright and beautiful just because are children are dead does not meen that we should just not bother! Those tacky trinkets meen something to someone or someones child have some bloody respect! Each of you are allowed your opinion but really these are our children dont be so horrible![/p][/quote]i agree with you 100% some of the comments on here are so upsetting! xxamy89xx
  • Score: 7

1:06pm Fri 27 Jun 14

julie53 says...

I have never commented on here before but regularly read the posts. I have found a lot of comments on this subject to be incredibly insensitive and ignorant and that is what spurred me to post. There are two points Id like to make.

1. The cemetery- I believe that unlike the dark days of visiting a sombre and often fearful place for grieving and remembrance, the cemetery of today celebrates the life of the loved ones. I personally like to hear the sound of a windmill at a child's grave spinning in the the breeze, I personally find nothing offensive about toys or other mementos being placed at the site. Other countries treat death very differently to our 'British' way. I think that as in our daily lives there is room for everyone and there should be tolerance for everyone too. As long as the mementos are contained within the allotted space then I can see no argument for removal.

2. A question of taste. For all those using the words ,tacky' and such… I have been studying a degree in philosophy and the human situation, part of which analyses aesthetics and taste. The upshot - there is no such thing, it is a human construct developed by narrow minded individuals, we all perceive taste as something different. For those who have criticised taste in cemeteries , would you like someone to come into your home and tear down and belittle your 'good taste'?.

But for those who are convinced that there is such a thing as good taste then maybe this quote may make some of you think twice before posting such distressing remarks …

Sometimes it's more important to be human, than to have good taste.
Bertolt Brecht
I have never commented on here before but regularly read the posts. I have found a lot of comments on this subject to be incredibly insensitive and ignorant and that is what spurred me to post. There are two points Id like to make. 1. The cemetery- I believe that unlike the dark days of visiting a sombre and often fearful place for grieving and remembrance, the cemetery of today celebrates the life of the loved ones. I personally like to hear the sound of a windmill at a child's grave spinning in the the breeze, I personally find nothing offensive about toys or other mementos being placed at the site. Other countries treat death very differently to our 'British' way. I think that as in our daily lives there is room for everyone and there should be tolerance for everyone too. As long as the mementos are contained within the allotted space then I can see no argument for removal. 2. A question of taste. For all those using the words ,tacky' and such… I have been studying a degree in philosophy and the human situation, part of which analyses aesthetics and taste. The upshot - there is no such thing, it is a human construct developed by narrow minded individuals, we all perceive taste as something different. For those who have criticised taste in cemeteries , would you like someone to come into your home and tear down and belittle your 'good taste'?. But for those who are convinced that there is such a thing as good taste then maybe this quote may make some of you think twice before posting such distressing remarks … Sometimes it's more important to be human, than to have good taste. Bertolt Brecht julie53
  • Score: 4

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