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Daughter’s horror at state of Redenhall cemetery

Redenhall, Norfolk. Debbie Kilbourn. 'Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography
Redenhall, Norfolk. Debbie Kilbourn. 'Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography

A heartbroken woman has told of her distress after mourners at her father’s funeral had to struggle to stop them sinking in the mud because of drainage issues.

Debbie Kilbourn, 37, said she was also “too scared to look” as pallbearers struggled not to slip carrying her father’s coffin at the funeral on Thursday, March 8.

Redenhall, Norfolk.
Redenhall, Norfolk.

Her father, Billy, was buried next to his wife, June, at Redenhall Cemetery, close to St Mary’s Church.

But Mrs Kilbourn said drainage problems at the cemetery had turned both graves into “quicksand”.

“At dad’s funeral last week, I advised everyone to bring Wellington boots, as it was so bad,” she said. “They thought I was joking, but it was like quicksand.

“The pallbearers had to carry dad at waist height at the cemetery but I was too scared to look.

“It was like a nightmare. The mud was at least two inches deep.”

Debbie’s mum died, aged 60, in September after a short illness.

It was just eight months after she won £300,000 on a National Lottery scratch card.

Mr Kilbourn, a retired self-employed builder, died in February, after suffering heart trouble and ill health.

They had just celebrated their 43rd wedding anniversary in August.

“When we chose the plots, we were advised that joint graves were no longer possible, because of the clay soil” said Debbie.

“So we chose a spot where they could still be together, side-by-side, towards the bottom of the hill, which we were told would be okay.

“This was also so dad could go and visit mum as he suffered mobility problems and there was a bench nearby.

“Since mum was buried there, her grave has already had to be topped up with soil four times due to it sinking and I haven’t even really been able to visit as it is always so waterlogged and too distressing.”

Mourners laid wreaths last week including a floral dartboard, fish and football. Billy Kilbourn, who had lived in Harleston for 68.

“Within a few days, people were sending me messages on Facebook to say the flowers on dad’s grave were completely submerged with water,” said Debbie.

“I haven’t even been able to take my daughter, Ava, because she would be in tears.

“It looks like both graves are in the middle of a ploughed field full of water, when she thinks they are in a beautiful garden.”

Redenhall with Harleston Town Council opened the cemetery, which is alongside the graveyard of St Mary’s Church, in 2008. It currently has around 60 graves.

Mrs Kilbourn’s parents are furthest down the hill, near to the cemetery gate.

“We have been told we have to wait until Easter before we even think about installing head stones as rain turns the area into a river,” said Debbie.

A spokeswoman for the town council said: “We visited today and we have never seen it like this.

“The field is clay and it is waterlogged due to the exceptional weather conditions we have had, including the heavy snow and persistent rain.

“Usually, it is a very peaceful place and we haven’t been contacted about any issues before.

“We have contacted a local contractor to see what we can do to alleviate the problem and allow some drainage. We can’t apologise enough, and have taken steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

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