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'We are suffering a lot of grief as it is' - stillborn child's flowers are removed from grave by council

PUBLISHED: 10:57 01 February 2019

Layla Turner with her Mum, Leanne at Earlham Cemetery in Norwich. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Layla Turner with her Mum, Leanne at Earlham Cemetery in Norwich. Picture: Neil Didsbury

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A mother of a stillborn child has spoken of her grief being compounded further after the council removed and disposed of flowers from her daughter’s grave.

Layla Turner at the grave of her twin sister Angel who was stillborn. Picture: Neil DidsburyLayla Turner at the grave of her twin sister Angel who was stillborn. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Leanne Jolly’s twin daughter, Angel Turner, was stillborn in July 2016 at 25 weeks but her sister Layla survived.

The 31-year-old mother-of-three, of Waring Road, Norwich, has visited her daughter’s grave at Earlham Cemetery every Sunday ever since and lovingly decorates it with ornaments and flowers for her birthday and Christmas.

Norwich City Council had placed notices around the cemetery in November which advised visitors to remove festive decorations by January 13 and any items that were broken, decaying or in poor condition would be removed.

Miss Jolly said she had removed the Christmas decorations by January 6 but had left the artificial flowers with other ornaments.

“It makes the grave look more colourful,” she said. “We had these flowers during the first Christmas in 2016 and have been reusing them every year.”

But on Sunday, January 27, she noticed the flowers had gone missing and so asked the council whether they had removed them.

Angel Turner's grave with Christmas decorations placed by mother Leanne Jolly. Picture: Leanne JollyAngel Turner's grave with Christmas decorations placed by mother Leanne Jolly. Picture: Leanne Jolly

The council responded on January 30 confirming they had removed items from the cemetery and any items that were not damaged or decaying could be collected before February 7.

But when Miss Jolly called the council to arrange a collection, she had been told the flowers were disposed of.

The council said the flowers showed signs damage and decay but Miss Jolly disputed this, stating they were in good condition and were not Christmas decorations, with the exception of a few sticks of holly.

The flowers at Angel Turner's grave after the Christmas decorations were removed by mother Leanne Jolly. Picture: Leanne JollyThe flowers at Angel Turner's grave after the Christmas decorations were removed by mother Leanne Jolly. Picture: Leanne Jolly

“It has upset me a lot,” she said. “Anything I put on her grave is sentimental - that’s all I can do for her, it’s my way of looking after her.”

The council say they have filled five flatbed lorries with various Christmas decorations from the cemetery which the council say involved assessing and clearing some 10,000 graves.

A Norwich City Council spokesman said the appropriateness of items placed on graves was a “subjective and emotive issue”.

The grave of baby Angel where plastic flowers and holly were removed by the council
Picture: Neil DidsburyThe grave of baby Angel where plastic flowers and holly were removed by the council Picture: Neil Didsbury

The spokesman added: “Our dedicated cemeteries team knows this first-hand – particularly in cases involving the graves of babies and very young children.

“But this team works exceptionally hard at striking the right balance between all cemetery users – and never more so when it comes to providing information and advice at Christmas about appropriate items to place on graves and when these need to be removed by people who placed them there.”

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