Shock for elderly Sompting couple visiting son’s resting place as digger parked over grave (From The Argus)
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Shock for elderly Sompting couple visiting son’s resting place as digger parked over grave
An elderly couple have had their son’s gravestone reinstated after finding a digger parked over it.
Margaret and Raymond Hunt went to visit the grave of their son Philip, who died 33 years ago in a motorbike accident in France, last month, only to find the headstone was missing.
The couple, in their 80s, were furious to find a council worker digging another grave, in Lancing and Sompting Cemetery, adjacent to Philip’s, which no longer had a headstone.
Following a formal complaint to Adur and Worthing Councils, a stonemason was sent to restore the grave’s original state the following day but the horrified parents are still devastated.
Mr Hunt said: “I think anyone in our situation, turning up and seeing a digger parked across the grave of your loved one, would be just as offended as we were.”
Mrs Hunt added: “It was the shock. The shock of walking up and seeing it and realising where it was – on our Philip’s grave.
“We don’t go to church anymore, because we see his grave as our church – and to see his grave treated like that is absolutely disgusting.”
Mr Hunt, who lives in Abbey Road in Sompting with his wife of 56 years, added: “I worked as a transport manager for a local authority for a long time, so I know a thing or two, and I know there’s machinery out there that could have been used to do the job without being so intrusive.
“But the way the councils are run now with cuts and privatisation, I’m sure there’s only one machine they use and if it can dig a big hole then it can dig a little hole as well – they’re always after a quick fix.”
The parents told how they picked the burial ground because it was the “perfect place” for their son to rest.
In a joint statement, Adur and Worthing councils said: “On Tuesday, June 26, a grave due to be excavated for an interment was located behind graves already used, preventing direct access to the grave to be machine excavated.
“At no time did our staff run vehicles over the grave. The vehicle straddled the grave with the vehicle in the intergrave spaces”
“We had a very short timeframe and the nature of the soil at Lancing and Sompting (chalk), meant hand-digging the grave would have taken longer than the time available to prepare the grave to achieve the depth required.”
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