Family's horror after learning mother was buried in wrong grave
- Credit: Neil Didsbury
A council has apologised after a horrified family found their mother had been buried in the wrong grave.
Ernest Howlett and his wife Violet bought two adjacent plots in Wymondham Cemetery before they passed away.
The couple wanted to be buried together in one, and their sons to be laid to rest next door when they followed them.
Retired gravedigger Mr Howlett died in 2003, aged 81 and was buried at Wymondham, where he tended the cemetery and dug graves.
When his 85-year-old wife died in 2011, the couple's three sons thought she had been buried with him in accordance with her last wishes.
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Son Peter Howlett died of Covid in January, aged 68. But when the plot alongside his parents' grave was dug for his burial, cemetery officials found his mother had already been buried in it.
Mr Howlett's family had to buy another plot in a different part of the cemetery for £170, meaning he could not be buried with his parents.
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His brother Richard has complained to Wymondham Town Council, which runs the town's graveyard.
The 68-year-old retired poultry worker, from Fakenham, wants his mother to be exhumed and laid to rest with his father.
"She bought the plots, all she wanted was my mother and father to be together on one plot," said retired poultry worker Mr Howlett, 65, from Fakenham. "If a mistake happened, at least we could have been told about it at the time.
"Dad worked on cemeteries for most of his life.
"He was the caretaker, he dug many a grave at Wymondham. He wanted to be buried at Wymondham but they couldn't get it right. They couldn't even make an effort to do what my parents wished."
In his complaint to the council, Mr Howlett adds: "My mother has lain for nearly 10 years in an unmarked grave and when the family have visited they have been paying their respects at the wrong grave. This has been very upsetting for myself and my wife."
In his reply, Wymondham mayor Kevin Hurn said: "I am sorry that you feel the council has not lived up to your expectation in respect of the burial of your late mother and for any distress this has caused."
He adds: "Whilst most graves are originally prepared with the intention of being used for two interments, it is regrettable that on this occasion it was not possible to do this."
When contacted by the EDP, Mr Hurn said the council tried to ensure the wishes of relatives were carried out but in Mrs Howlett's case, the ground around her husband's grave had collapsed, meaning she could not be buried with him.