Grief at the Graveside

Maria Pallagrass by the dug-up graves at Stoney Royd Cemetery, Siddal.
Maria Pallagrass by the dug-up graves at Stoney Royd Cemetery, Siddal.

A SHOCKED mother was left devastated after council workers dug up her child’s grave.

Maria Pallagrass, from Mixenden, buried her daughter Tina in a communal baby grave at Stoney Royd Cemetery, Siddal, Halifax, 40 years ago.

But then she found the plot left looking like a building site, without any warning from the council.

Maria, 63, said: “I come up every other week to sweep round the grave. I came up two weeks ago and everything was fine.

“Then I got a call from a friend saying the grave had been dug up.

“I was very upset. It felt like she had been disturbed.”

Tina Maria Pate, Maria’s thrid child, died at just six weeks from bronchial pneumonia in 1971.

She is buried in the communal grave, which is the final resting place for many babies who died very young or were stillborn,

“These graves are very important to parents and families,” said Maria.

“If the council had warned us this was going to happen then we could have been ready for it but they’ve just gone ahead an done it without any notice.

“I have been coming here for 40 years and it’s very upsetting to come here and see it like that.”

There were around 30 plaques on the grave before the work began and these have now been left in a pile next to the site.

However, not all babies are remembered with a plaque so the number of families affected could be higher.

“When I was here another mother got out of a taxi with flowers and she was crying and very upset,” said Maria.

Paul Stubbs, funeral services manager, said: “The sealing slab that holds the memorial plaques was beginning to collapse and was a danger to those visiting the grave. This is in the process of being repaired.

“The vault has not been disturbed. We would like to apologise to the families for any distress we may have caused. The repair works are due for completion on Friday 11 March 2011.”