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Harleston mum makes plea for graveyard at St Mary’s Church in Redenhall to be cleared up

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A bereaved mum has put out a desperate plea for council officials to clear up the graveyard where her five-month-old daughter is buried.

Over the past 10 years, Natalie Read has had to clear away grass and weeds from the grave of her daughter, Gabriella, at St Mary’s Church in Redenhall.

Mrs Read’s family members would often visit the grave of Gabriella, who died in 1999, to clear it before she visited to spare her the distress of doing it herself.

The 50-year-old community midwife, who lives in The Common, in Harleston, described how the state of the cemetery, in Church Close, has steadily deteriorated over the past decade.

Redenhall Graveyard, which is overgrown with vegetation. Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography 2022.
Redenhall Graveyard, which is overgrown with vegetation. Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography 2022.

“At first, I chose to bury Gabriella in Redenhall because it’s near to our house but also, at that time, it was a beautifully kept graveyard.

“But, in the past 10 years, it’s got quite bad. There’s weeds everywhere and overgrown grass.

“My family used to go there before me to clear it up so I wasn’t upset but I could see the mess around other people’s graves.

“I have trusted my baby in that graveyard and they are not looking after her – it’s really upsetting.”

With the cemetery now full, there appears to be uncertainty about who is actually responsible for the maintenance of the site.

Section 4 of the Parochial Church Councils Act 1956 states that a parochial church council (PCC) is responsible for maintenance unless a churchyard is closed for further burials – in which case it can be passed to the district council.

Lindy Ellis, whose husband sits on the PCC, explained how friends of the church maintain the churchyard as best they can but, ultimately, the responsibility lies with South Norfolk Council.

She said: “We get the blame and are always having to tell people we are not responsible. We do what we can but we are getting older and can’t do a great deal.”

A spokesman for the district council, however, maintained that the authority is not responsible for the upkeep of the churchyard.

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