Family ‘devastated’ as council admits they’ve been visiting wrong headstone for father for 43 years

Grave mistake: Family left ‘devastated’ after council admits they have been visiting the wrong headstone for their dearly-departed father for 43 YEARS

  • Sylvia Ross thought she was visiting her father John’s grave for 43 years
  • The 67-year-old discovered she has been leaving flowers at the wrong grave 
  • She was devastated over the mix-up at Witton Park Cemetery, County Durham
  • Durham County Council’s bereavement services manage has apologised 

A family has been left heartbroken after discovering they had been visiting the wrong grave for more than 43 years.

Sylvia Ross, 67, has been visiting the grave she believed her father John Thomas Thompson had been buried in since 1979, leaving flowers there to mark every birthday, Christmas, and Father’s Day. 

But Sylvia, along with daughter Lynette, were devastated to find out the grave was actually home to another coffin.

The pair only realised the error after they spotted a Facebook post about a wrongly placed plaque at Witton Park Cemetery in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, which was being moved by the council.

It was then confirmed they’d been paying their respects at the wrong grave.

Sylvia Ross, 67, has been visiting the grave she believed her father John Thomas Thompson had been buried in since 1979

Sylvia Ross, 67, has been visiting the grave she believed her father John Thomas Thompson had been buried in since 1979

She would go and leave flowers for her father on every birthday, Christmas and Father's Day

She would go and leave flowers for her father on every birthday, Christmas and Father’s Day

An investigation is now underway to discovered how the mistake was made as Sylvia’s father, who died aged 51 from a heart condition, lay in an unmarked grave just two plots away.

Lynette, 42, also from Bishop Auckland, said: ‘We’re disgusted, and my mam is heartbroken.

‘I never met my grandad, but my mam has been visiting his grave for 43 years and is utterly devastated.

‘She’s heartbroken as she says her dad has laid there thinking not one of us cared about him, with no flowers and no visits, nothing.’

It is understood the family had been visiting the grave of a Mr Frederick Brown who also died in the same year.

The blunder was only confirmed when the Brown family wanted to put up a memorial on their double plot, but realised there was not enough room so contacted Durham County Council.

The cemetery was run by Wear Valley District Council when John was buried in 1979 but was handed over to Durham County Council in 2009 when it became a unitary authority (file photo)

The cemetery was run by Wear Valley District Council when John was buried in 1979 but was handed over to Durham County Council in 2009 when it became a unitary authority (file photo)

‘They put it on the plot we’ve been visiting my whole life and have taken flowers to every birthday, Christmas, and Father’s Day while he has actually laid there with nothing.

‘It’s just disgusting, how can they get something so simple so wrong.’

The cemetery was run by Wear Valley District Council when John was buried in 1979 but was handed over to Durham County Council in 2009 when it became a unitary authority.

Graham Harrison, Durham County Council’s bereavement services manager, said:

‘We are sorry for the distress this error has caused the family.

‘At the time, the cemetery would have been managed by Wear Valley District Council.

‘Once we were made aware of the historic mistake, we carefully moved the items to the correct grave within the quickest possible time scale.

‘Although the grave has now been corrected, this does not take away from the pain the family has experienced, and we would like to reiterate our sincerest apologies for any hurt that has been caused.’

Source

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