Man’s wish to be buried in his home village of Littleport has been denied

Iris Butcher with a photo of her and her husband Kenneth. Picture: Rob Morris

Iris Butcher with a photo of her and her husband Kenneth. Picture: Rob Morris - Credit: Rob Morris

For more than half his life, Kenneth Butcher made his home in the Fens village of Littleport, where he raised a family and became well known in the local community.

St George's Church in Littleport

St George's Church in Littleport - Credit: Archant

Eight years ago, he and his wife, Iris, moved to Downham Market to be nearer to useful services, but it was always his wish that he would return to be buried in his beloved home village.

Following his death last week, however, his widow has now been told he cannot be laid to rest there, as the parish council rules state that only local parishioners can be buried in the village, due to lack of space.

Mrs Butcher, 72, is now appealing for someone to donate a plot at the village's St George's Church. 'I played the organ in both churches in Littleport for over 50 years. I lived there all my life and we lived there together for most of our married lives. It was my husband's dying wish to be buried in Littleport.'

The couple raised two girls in the village who were both christened and married in its second church, St Matthew's, which has since been closed.

Mrs Butcher added. 'We moved to Downham Market eight years ago as it was easier to get out and about for shopping. Somebody kindly offered an unwanted plot for another family recently and I'm hoping somebody might do the same for our family. If nobody can help then at least I tried.'

Mr Butcher, 74 – who had lived in Littleport for 42 years – died unexpectedly after suffering complications following a triple bypass operation last month. He came home and appeared to be making a good recovery but after suffering problems was admitted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn.

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Mrs Butcher – who lived in Littleport for 64 years – travelled to Lynn last Friday to bring him home but, in the meantime, he suffered a cardiac arrest and died.

In September, Littleport Town councillors voted 9-2 to keep a policy that allows only parishioners to be buried locally.

It is a situation faced by many churches across the country – there is simply not enough space, said parish clerk Linda Clarke-Jones.

She said: 'I understand it is a very difficult time for families but it is not a rule that only we have in Littleport, this is the same for many towns and villages across the country.

'We can have the service here and can accept ashes, but we just do not have the space for burials.'

Faced with a wait of up to four years for a new burial ground, the parish council was committed to protecting burial space for parishioners, she said.