Daughter to appeal against headstone image refusal

A Norfolk woman upset that she is not allowed to put an image of a speedway rider on her father's headstone is to launch an appeal against the decision.

Lorna Howard, 23, from Hindringham, near Fakenham, has requested for a sketch of a speedway rider and eight stars to be engraved on the headstone to symbolise her father Derek's love of the King's Lynn Stars, but been told that is unlikely to be approved.

Mr Howard died of heart failure in March last year at the age of 63 and is buried at Hindringham churchyard.

Miss Howard said: 'Dad died unexpectedly and that's been hard enough to deal with. I feel that I can't grieve or move on with my life until this is dealt with.'

She has started a petition and has so far gathered 330 signatures and will appeal to the diocesan chancellor, who will have the final say on the issue.

She said: 'I don't see how this would hurt anybody. Dad loved speedway. We used to go to all of the King's Lynn Stars' home meetings and travel all over the country to see them.

'Speedway was dad's life – some people say it was his religion – and I thought this would be a nice way to reflect this.

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'In Hindringham I've seen gravestones with a dog, a tractor and a boat and there is one with a motorbike nearby. I don't understand why the rules have to change now.'

The venerable Jan McFarlane, from the Diocese of Norwich, said: 'We did make an informal enquiry to the diocesan chancellor to see if this image may be permitted and he indicated that he would not approve it.'

She added: 'It is important to point out that the rules have not changed, but have been made clearer. Pictures were not allowed on gravestones at all at one point, but now some pictures are permitted. Pictures which reflect Christian theology or if somebody has served in the armed forces a logo from their squadron may be allowed.

'Some other pictures may be allowed but only in exceptional circumstances and we have to be strict on this because if you change the rules for one person everyone will expect you to change them for them as well.

'It would seem that in the past some images have been allowed which should not have been.'

She added: 'A concern here is that in a Christian graveyard we hope the soul of the person who has died has gone to heaven to be with God. We see them as being set free so having images which dwell on their past could be seen as inappropriate.

'People may ask what harm will it do, but if someone had a friend who was killed by a motorcycle in the next grave it could be uncomfortable for them.

'I do understand that these people are upset and I would like them to get in contact with us so we talk things through.'