Mourners have spoken of their heartbreak after trinkets left to loved ones were removed from a crematorium.
Some plaques and memorabilia were reportedly moved and people have said they are struggling to find the treasured items they left before council chiefs ordered their removal.
A petition has now been launched against the policy at Worthing Crematorium and people have shared their stories online. The petition has generated almost 700 clicks on Facebook and about 500 signatures online, while others have signed a paper petition.
Sheila Howell, 50, lost her sister Angela Mitchell and father Peter Brown last year – both have their ashes scattered in the crematorium’s Spring Glade. Her mother, Christina Brown, is also laid to rest in the crematorium.
Mrs Howell, of Worthing, said: “Within nine months of my dad passing away and six months of my sister passing away these items will be removed. We are still grieving over our loss.”
Jackie Offen shared her story on Facebook.
She said the policy was “shamefully disrespectful”, adding: “Both my parents and my brother’s ashes are under a tree planted in my brother’s memory. We cannot see if our tree is alright and cannot find our memorabilia.
“We could not find our vases in storage either.”
Tricia Dudman said: “If we had known this at the time we scattered Nan in the Spring Glade, we wouldn’t have chosen Worthing Crem as her resting place. Now it’s too late and we can’t exactly move her ashes.”
Sally Glover said: “Been up there today for mum’s birthday. All my mum’s and grandad’s stuff had gone, even the dreamcatchers we put in the trees. I’m so heartbroken.”
An anonymous poster said: “My dear dad’s ashes are there. I have only been able to visit him once as I live in Australia, and I left something personal from us, his family in Oz, on his little piece of West Sussex when I was there.
“I thought seeing all the tributes to loved ones there really enhanced the atmosphere and made it a loving, caring place where people come to celebrate and remember the lives of their loved ones.
“I can only assume that my little contribution has now been thrown in the garbage – a despicable act.”
Clive Roberts, Worthing council’s cabinet member for the environment, said: “We are aware of the petition.
“As regards memorabilia, Worthing Borough Council’s policy has always been to only allow fresh flowers or potted plants within the beautiful grounds at Worthing Crematorium, and we have always regularly removed unauthorised memorabilia as it is detrimental to the natural parkland and serenity of the setting.
“We do sympathise with anyone who has lost a loved one.
“It is a very difficult situation to manage and please everyone but we must remain firm.”