Mum’s upset over grave confusion

Eileen Dennis, by the grave of her daughter Claire Greenwood in Sowerby Bridge Cemetery, with her daughters Laura Robinson and Kerry Haddley.
Eileen Dennis, by the grave of her daughter Claire Greenwood in Sowerby Bridge Cemetery, with her daughters Laura Robinson and Kerry Haddley.

A distraught mother has spoken of her devastation after her daughter’s grave appeared to move without warning.

When Eileen Dennis’ two-year-old daughter tragically died from tuberculosis and meningitis in 1979, she was buried in a children’s vault in Sowerby Bridge Cemetery.

Eileen has visited the plot where she believed her daughter was buried for the past 36 years, but on a visit to mark what would have been Claire’s 36th birthday, her daughter’s plaque appeared to be in a different place.

The council says that maintenance work to repair the land around the grave has changed the appearance of the land since Eileen’s last visit and no remains have been moved.

But Eileen and her family say it has raised concerns about which part of the vault Claire is in.

“It just knocked us for six,” Eileen, 55, said.

“It was Claire’s birthday on March 21 and I went to take some flowers and the headstone wasn’t where it usually is. I thought ‘she’s moved’.

“I was on my own at the time and I rang for my daughter to come with me and look.”

But when Eileen’s daughter went along to the grave, she confirmed the headstone had moved. The family raised the alarm and say that when the cemetery groundsman counted the plots and reached Claire’s plot, a different headstone was there. They also claim they were told that there had been problems in the cemetery before.

Now, the family has vowed to fight for answers and wants to see a map of where Claire should be.

Eileen said: “I’ve not been able to sleep. I feel disgusted and I feel like I’ve betrayed Claire. I’ve been going all these years and she’s not been there.

“What must she think of me not visiting?”

Eileen’s daughter Laura Robinson, 30, added: “We’ve got no problem in saying she might be in the right plot number, but because they have refused to show us the maps we still feel there’s issues.

“We have asked to see the maps for our own peace of mind. Because we know it’s moved, we have no way of knowing which part of the vault she is in.

“It’s completely thrown us. We’re not letting this lie. It’s not something that’s going to get brushed under the carpet, we want to know why it’s been moved, who has moved it and why no-one has been told.”

Andrew Pitts, Calderdale Council’s head of neighbourhoods, said: “We have thoroughly looked into Mrs Dennis’s concerns and have met with her to reassure her that her daughter’s plaque and grave have not been moved.

“In the period since Mrs Dennis’s last visit we have carried out some work to repair and re-seed the sunken area of land around the grave.

“As a result, this area looks different but nothing has been moved. We have checked our registers alongside the maps, and can clearly identify that the register ties in with the map which corresponds to the grave plot in the cemetery.

“Under no circumstances are any remains removed from any grave without the family’s full approval and authorisation from the Ministry of Justice.”

He added that the council would continue to help with all concerns.