Swaffham mum’s heartache after gifts were removed from son’s grave

15:37 24 February 2014

Shirley and Sid Symonds by their son

Shirley and Sid Symonds by their son's Dale grave in Swaffham cemetary, which has had cards and wreaths removed from it. Picture: Matthew Usher.

© Archant Norfolk 2014

A mother has spoken of her heartache after tributes were removed from her son’s grave.

Shirley Symonds and her husband Sid visited their son’s grave to replace the wreaths and cards left on his grave over the Christmas period.

The couple’s son Dale died from sudden death syndrome nearly 27 years ago, aged 19.

The couple, who live in Swaffham, normally visit their son’s grave at the town’s cemetery in Brandon Road every three weeks and take their own grass clippers to keep the area tidy.

This time, however, there had been a longer break between visits and when they arrived, they were heartbroken to discover the three wreaths and cards put down at Christmas had disappeared, with just one card remaining, which had been taped onto a vase at the headstone.

When they spoke to Swaffham Town Council, they discovered that they had been removed by the cemetery’s groundsman as part of council policy.

Mother-of-six Mrs Symonds, 69, who has 15 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, said: “They have no right to remove stuff, it’s us that look after his little grave, not the council - we have always done so and we always will do.

“It may be coming up to 27 years since he died this year but whether it’s 27 years or 57, it doesn’t stop you from feeling hurt. You never lose your love for that child you lost.”

Mrs Symonds said the wreaths which were taken were “lovely” and that they would have liked the opportunity to have kept the cards.

“There was nothing wrong with those wreaths at all and those cards were personal,” she said. “They were personal from us to him. They could have given them back to us.”

A spokesman for Swaffham Town Council said rules which were put in place in 1998 state that Christmas wreaths are cleared from the cemetery if they are not already removed by the end of January. She said other floral tributes will be cleared when faded.

She said she was aware that one of the cards had been left and taped to the vase but did not know what happened to the other cards.

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