Keighley family's anger at ‘damage’ to grave

Michael Boddy at the grave of his wife, Carol

Michael Boddy at the grave of his wife, Carol

First published in News by

A Keighley man and his family were left distraught by damage caused to his late wife’s grave after council workers dumped tonnes of soil on it while excavating the neighbouring plot.

Michael Boddy, 56, said not only was a huge mound of earth deposited on his wife Carol’s grave in Utley Cemetery, but digging caused part of her plot to collapse.

Treasured memorial ornaments, lights and flowers lovingly placed on her grave were removed and left in a mud-spattered pile.

“I know this work needs to be carried out, but it was the way they’d done it,” Mr Boddy said. “It was disgraceful, and completely disrespectful.”

A Bradford Council spokesman responded: “Every effort is made to carry out the work sensitively, and our staff will always try to treat people with respect and sympathy.”

Former doorman Mr Boddy and his wife were married for 37 years and had seven children. Mrs Boddy died in her sleep in May last year, aged 57. She had been suffering from a serious spinal condition.

Mr Boddy, of North Dean Road, said he and some of his children discovered the damage to her grave when they visited it last Thursday.

“It was total devastation – I just burst into tears,” he added. “Everything we’d put on the grave – flowers, solar-powered lights, plastic vases, cherubs – had been thrown onto one side. Some of it was broken and covered in mud.

“There was plenty of space nearby for them to dump the earth from the new grave – they didn’t have to pile it on my wife’s plot.

“Part of my wife’s grave had subsided, so they were within a foot-and-a-half of exposing her coffin.” John Scholefield, Bradford Council’s bereavement and amenities manager, said: “We have every sympathy with anyone who is upset by cemetery excavations, but staff often have no alternative but to temporarily store the soil from an excavated grave on an adjacent plot.

“We take every care, as we did in this case, to carefully remove any items from the grave and store them in a safe place until the soil can be removed. In this case, none of the items were damaged and they were later returned to their original position.
“In very wet weather, and with graves so close together, it is common, despite the shoring, for there to be some slippage of material from one plot into the adjacent excavation.
“If this results in any settling of soil, we will reinstate it at a later date to restore it to its original level.”

John Scholefield, Bradford Council’s bereavement and amenities manager, said: “We have every sympathy with anyone who is upset by cemetery excavations, but staff often have no alternative but to temporarily store the soil from an excavated grave on an adjacent plot.

“We take every care, as we did in this case, to carefully remove any items from the grave and store them in a safe place until the soil can be removed. In this case, none of the items were damaged and they were later returned to their original position.

“In very wet weather, and with graves so close together, it is common, despite the shoring, for there to be some slippage of material from one plot into the adjacent excavation.

“If this results in any settling of soil, we will reinstate it at a later date to restore it to its original level.”

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