Norwich widow left distraught after soil dumped on husband’s grave at Earlham cemetery
12:03 24 September 2012
A widow was left distraught after her husband’s grave was covered in huge mounds of soil – and her immediate thought was that he had been dug up.
However, a spokesman for Norwich City Council, which manages Earlham cemetery, said it was usual for soil to be deposited on surrounding graves during the digging process in parts of the cemetery where access was restricted.
Joyce Fulcher, 70, from Colls Road on the Heartsease estate, visits her husband Ronald ‘Ronnie’ Fulcher’s grave at the cemetery every week.
A week ago she visited and was shocked to find that several feet of soil from a freshly dug grave had been deposited on the plot. When she approached the gravediggers to find out what had happened, she said she was told that they had dug out another grave ready for a burial in four days’ time, and had put the soil from the dig on her husband’s plot. The soil would therefore only be covering her husband’s grave for a maximum of four days, they said.
The grandmother-of-four, whose husband died in 2010 aged 72, said: “I was disgusted. It looked exactly like they had dug my husband up again.
“This was on a Thursday and the diggers said that another person would be buried on Monday, so the soil would only be on my husband’s grave a few days. But that was not the point. It was so disrespectful. I look after the grave every week and keep it really nice with flowers.”
Her son Harry Fulcher, 45, from Bowthorpe, who also visited the grave, added: “Mum was really upset. They had also completely covered another grave, next to my father’s, with soil, when there was a bigger area to the right of my father’s plot that they could have used. It’s very disrespectful to my mother.
“Is there no respect anymore for the dead or their loved ones? My mother and father paid several hundred pounds to buy this plot, and saved hard for their own funeral arrangement plans.
“I suppose it’s just another grave to them. We are not happy at all. We would not want anyone else to visit their loved one’s grave and discover this.
“There is no excuse for this as there is a much bigger area for the gravediggers to put the soil onto rather than somebody’s plot.”
A spokesman for Norwich City Council said: “It’s only natural that loved ones may be left upset when they see soil temporarily deposited onto graves while gravediggers go about their work to prepare other plots for burial.
“But the gravediggers take their responsibilities very seriously and work hard to minimise disruption to other graves and any potential distress this may cause to visitors.
“In areas of the cemetery such as where Mr Fulcher is buried, soil will always be deposited on surrounding graves during the grave digging process, unless the grave is on the edge of the section.
“In these areas access is very restricted and disturbance to graves in the immediate area is inevitable and is part and parcel of an operational cemetery.
“The only alternative would be to deposit soil into a wheelbarrow from the bucket on the digger and then remove it to the path by hand. This would be expensive, time-consuming and impractical given staff need to dig the graves as near as possible to the time of the funeral and often dig more than one in a day, and sometimes on three separate sites.”
Do you think the council’s policy regarding digging graves at Earlham cemetery is right or do you agree with Mrs Fulcher? Email firstname.lastname@example.org