A WOMAN has spoken of her agony after she was forced to bury her mother twice due to a blunder by cemetery chiefs.
June Barrowclough, of Cublington, had to have her mother exhumed and held two funerals after Aylesbury Town Council officials buried her mother in a pre-purchased grave at Tring Road cemetery in Aylesbury.
Mrs Barrowclough, who is now suing the authority for compensation, has experienced serious health problems as a result of the stress – leaving her needing anti-depressant medication.
“I just want to know the truth behind why it happened,” said Mrs Barrowclough.
“My mother died on December 7 last year, and was buried on the 21st. Come Boxing Day, however, a woman went to visit her son’s grave, only to find that the grave she had pre-purchased for herself had been freshly dug for someone else.
“I didn’t even know there was a problem until I got a call from a council officer who said: ‘I’m sorry, but there’s been a mistake – I’m afraid your mother’s been buried in a grave belonging to someone else and will have to be exhumed.’
“They had to move her body and bury her in a new coffin in another plot on April 19.
“I was reeling – I just couldn’t take it all in, I still can’t.
“The worst part about it all was having to call up my children to tell them they would have to go to their nan’s funeral for a second time.
“And when they asked me why, I didn’t have an answer for them.
“I felt so awful, and the thought of an exhumation scared the life out of me.
“I feel like I’ve let my mother down – parents put an unspoken trust in their children to bury them. My mother buried her parents, and they buried theirs.
“When I saw the coffin for the second time my legs just went from underneath me – luckily my family were there, otherwise I don’t know what I would have done.
“It’s the little things that hurt the most. When I had to buy my mum’s flowers for the second time, I just found myself in the shop with tears streaming down my face, unable to say anything.
“And if the mistake had never happened, I’d be arranging for my mother’s gravestone to be put in – because you have to wait a year after the burial.
“But now I’ll have to wait until April.
“I’ve had to go onto antidepressants because I just felt so awful, and I’ve had to see a professional about the pain the stress has caused my neck.
“That’s why I’m taking legal action now, to do something about the situation and to help relieve the stress.
“Something has to be done, this cannot be allowed to happen again. I just think Aylesbury Town Council is incompetent. They are incapable of running a cemetery.”
When Mrs Barrowclough asked the council why the blunder had taken place, she was told by Stuart Jarvis, the councillor responsible for burials, that it was as a result of missing records of who was buried where, and where pre-purchased graves were situated – but the town council now says this is incorrect.
“If there are burial records missing, then there’s every chance it could happen again,” added Mrs Barrowclough.
“What’s more, the grave where my mum was buried originally still hasn’t been marked to show it’s a pre-purchased grave.
“It amazes me, what is there to say this couldn’t happen to someone else?”
A similar mistake was made by the town council a few years ago, when another woman was buried in a pre-purchased grave at Tring Road cemetery. Luckily, the council was able to buy the grave from the owner so, unlike Mrs Barrowlough’s mother, she did not have to be moved.
By way of apology for the mix-up concerning Mrs Barrowlclough’s mum, the town council reimbursed her for the original funeral and paid for the second – which Mrs Barrowclough say is simply not enough.
When asked for the reason behind the blunder, leader of the council, Steve Patrick, issued the following statement: “We made a very big error and buried Mrs Barrowclough’s mother in the wrong place.
“Aylesbury Town Council has rectified this error, and has done everything to put matters right.
“At the January meeting of the town council, Mrs Barrowclough was incorrectly informed by the new chair of the committee (Stuart Jarvis) that the error was as a result of incorrect records – this was not the case.
“Aylesbury Town Council is confident that the records they have are full and accurate.
“The chair was unable to contact Mrs Barrowclough about this until she placed the matter into the hands of her solicitor.
“The mistake was as a result of human error, as heavy snow on the ground had covered the site lines of the graves, meaning the wrong plot was dug.
“There has been a thorough review of the way things are run at the cemetery, and we are very confident it won’t happen again.”