Family in shock at mess on mother's grave
A FAMILY was left distraught after visiting their mother's grave to lay flowers, only to find it heaped high with turf and mud.
Ansgar Clark, 63, who lives in Stockwood, and his sister Andrea Clark, 53, who lives in Bishopsworth, visited the grave of their late mother Anna Clark in the cemetery off Woollard Lane in Whitchurch.
She died of cancer aged 86 in January last year and was buried in the cemetery 18 months ago.
The family lay flowers every week and there had never before been a problem, but on Wednesday, June 6 they were in for a shock.
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Their mother's grave was piled high with large chunks of turf and mud, which made it impossible for the family to lay their flowers.
Their brother Andy Clark and his wife Lynda, both 47, were also visiting Bristol from Germany, and they too saw what state the grave was in.
After reading the Post last week the Clark family realised that the mess left on their mother's grave was seemingly linked to another incident.
We had reported how Hengrove man Mark Broomfield was left disgusted after he visited his mother's grave in the cemetery and discovered that the plaque and cross which had been on the coffin when she was buried were missing.
A grave digger had reopened the grave to make room for Mr Broomfield's father Edward, who recently died after a heart attack.
Initially the 47-year-old thought the items had been stolen, but on closer inspection Mr Broomfield discovered that the solid oak coffin she had been buried in was buckled and splintered.
After he reported the matter to the police the only explanation they could come up with for the damage to the coffin was that it had been caused by the mechanical digger used to dig the grave.
After seeing the article the Clark family realised that the mud left on their mother's grave was probably the result of this incident.
"When we saw the mess we were absolutely disgusted," said Lynda.
"The mud was piled up high and meant we couldn't leave our flowers.
"It just seemed really disrespectful. We then read in the Post about the damaged coffin and realised that Mrs Broomfield's plot was next to our mother's.
"We realised that the grave digger who allegedly damaged the coffin, was the same one who also left a terrible mess.
"We went to the town clerk's office and the lady there looked at our pictures and told us that this was not normal practice."
But Ashton Broad, chairman of Whitchurch Parish Council which manages the cemetery, told the Post that this was normal practice and that the council had complied with the rules and regulations of the cemetery.
A spokeswoman said: "When the exclusive rights of a grave are purchased the purchaser is supplied with a copy of the rules and regulations and signs to say that they understand and accept them.
"In these it states specifically "when new graves or re-opens take place there may be soil placed on adjacent graves as a temporary measure which will be cleared as soon as possible by the grave digger".
"Whitchurch Parish Council endeavours to sort out any issues brought to their attention at Whitchurch Cemetery with a quick and satisfactory solution."
Thomas Davis funeral directors confirmed they were responsible for providing a grave digger to prepare Mr Broomfield's plot for burial and had used Alan Price, who works on a freelance basis, but did not feel it was appropriate to comment further on the matter.
The Post contacted Mr Price but he refused to comment.