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Family traumatised by Councils neglect of memorial rose garden

A slightly different blog this week we have been contacted by a lady who is struggling to communicate with Trafford Council about the rose garden where her daughters ashes rest, this is what she said:

In 1997 my daughter Jeannine died at the age of 30 after a very short illness so we were devastated to loose her and she was a vibrant fun loving girl and was engaged to be married.  We decided to cremate our daughter and Altrincham Crematorium gave us options of where to scatter her ashes and we decided that the Rose Garden which in 1997 was absolutely beautiful was the right place as Jeannine loved gardens. 

So we leased a Standard Rose for 5 years  at the cost of £75.00 with the option to take another 5 years and so on and purchased a plaque with her name on it and all my family and the local vicar went to the Rose Garden and a Gardener dug a large hole and put her ashes in and planted the standard rose on top of the ashes.   It was a sad day but we had a memorial to my beautiful daughter and somewhere for me to visit regularly.  And I go every 2 to 3 weeks because this rose tree is the only tangible thing I have got.  But in around 2015 the Council subcontracted out the maintenance to Amey LG and the whole of the crematorium has deteriorated and in the Rose Garden they never weeded it or hoed or fed the roses and they are in a poor condition and I constantly complained in the office but they said they were short of funds and what we pay wasn’t enough and I answered with –  then charge more. 

On one of my many visits to the office complaining (and I add at this point that my husband and I have been weeding the beds every time we go and it’s not hard work) I was handed a letter saying that no Leases will be renewed after their renewal dates and they are going to take out the roses and redesign the whole area.   I was devastated at this news because Jeannine’s ashes are underneath her Rose and if they take it out they will disturb consecrated ground.

I was so mad and upset I got a local Councillor to set up a meeting at the Crematorium and it was ultimately decided that Jeannines Rose and Plaque would remain in situ until the last Lease expires which is 2022. But of course by then the Garden will be derelict and too late to restore the Rose Garden which could be easily saved now and soil fed etc etc.  They constantly tell me that the soil is poor but if you don’t feed it, it will be, but these people are not gardeners and I feel that don’t care in the slightest about our feelings and are completely insensitive. But the entrance to the Crematorium is well maintained and always beautiful flowers and it has to be the same soil as the Rose Garden directly behind but hidden by a huge hedge so no visitors can see how neglected it is. 

I panicked and wrote to the Vicar at the local church and asked him if the ground where my daughters ashes are is sacred and if they removed them would it come under the heading of exhumation, and he replied immediately and told me that there are legal parameters around burial sites and mortal remains which will ensure the safety of my daughter’s ashes, also in law ashes are considered to be the same as a body therefore cannot disturb the resting place as the ashes can’t be divided as its a body.  So I felt relieved that the Council couldn’t disturb the ground underneath the Rose, but I’ve just received a letter from the Chief Executive of Trafford Council and she informs me that the Vicar is correct when mortal remains are interred within a grave space, but this legislation does not apply to the laying to rest of cremated remains, either within a garden of remembrance or other public area.

So I am again frightened that they can remove the standard rose thus disturbing my daughters ashes even though it is in the Memorial Rose Garden provided by the Council and I know there are a lot of people in the same situation as myself.  So if anybody knows the law regarding ashes placed under a rose or tree  in the grounds of a crematorium  please let me know as I need as much support as I can get to help me sort this out.   

I have requested on many occasions to have accounts showing where the Council has spent all our Lease money and every 5 years I have paid and the last amount was £150 in March 2013 and has now expired but I’m told that the Lease money for the Rose is not itemised down to the level of the Rose Garden but income generated from memorials is used to support the overall keep of the grounds maintenance etc. etc. but nothing has been done in the Rose Garden for 3 years.    

I would love to hear from Trafford to share their side of the story

I will try to keep my waffly explainintion brief: I think there is two things going on one is legal which is possibly around the definition of interment – were the ashes scattered or interred. The second which is a more moral issue, I would strongly suspect that when Mrs Vickes interred/scattered her daughter’s ashes at the garden of remembrance she expected to be able to visit the her daughters resting place site and the rose bush in perpetuity, the council appear not see it like that.

This is a sad story, I hope this post will help her voice in finding some resolution.

2 thoughts on “Family traumatised by Councils neglect of memorial rose garden

  1. Reply
    Terry&Sue Smith - 15th October 2019

    My wife and I are regular visitors to the rose garden and the over past year have noticed a distinct lack of maintenance on the rose garden. On one side of the garden it looks like the fence has been hit by an excavator and is now at an angle of 20 degrees,not only is this unsightly it could be dangerous .Some of the weeds are over 5 feet tall.Its easy for the garden to be left like this when it s shielded from the general public.My wife and I are totally disgusted.

  2. Reply
    Don Riley - 8th October 2019

    I totally agree ,my daughters ashes are interred in the rose garden I was there yesterday and saw what looked like a disused field. I have taken some pictures and sent them to Trafford council.

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