Shropshire

Shrewsbury baby grave petition gets 1,600 signatures

Tributes on the graves Image copyright Picture supplied by parents
Image caption Volunteers from the charity Sands removed the tributes from the graves

A petition set up by a bereaved mother after charity volunteers cleared tributes from baby graves has attracted more than 1,600 signatures in a week.

Clare Maceachen, from Shrewsbury, lost her son William in childbirth in 2010.

Her petition calls for families to be allowed to leave one tribute after the Sands committee removed items at Longden Cemetery, in Shrewsbury.

Shropshire Council, which owns the cemetery, said it was considering a "new policy" for the graves.

'Simply heartbreaking'

Mrs Maceachen said she first noticed the tributes had been removed in November, when she visited the graves with her three-year-old son Harry.

She said many non-organic tributes, such as toys and ornaments, had been piled up under a nearby tree.

"William had with him a little stone bunny which Harry understood was his brother's toy," she said.

"We couldn't find it underneath the tree so I think they have just binned it.

"Being unable to leave anything to watch over my baby when I'm not there is simply heartbreaking."

Image copyright Picture supplied by parents
Image caption Mrs Maceachen says the tidying of the tributes is not being applied to any other graves in the cemetery

Many of the graves carry the names of stillborn or neonatal babies, with about 18 babies buried in each grave.

In a statement, Sands said it felt it had "no choice" following concerns about health and safety from cemetery staff.

The charity apologised for "not communicating with parents adequately".

Mrs Maceachen says the tidying of the tributes was not being applied to any other graves in the cemetery.

"In December, they even cleared the Christmas cards parents had left for their children, which is what made me decide to launch this petition last week," she said.

"There were 1,300 signatures within the first 48 hours - it just shows how much people care."

Mrs Maceachen's petition calls for Shropshire Council to allow the families of the babies to leave one small tribute.

Councillor Steve Charmley said: "Shropshire Council is to consider a new policy for what items can be left on the graves in future.

"In the meantime, floral tributes can continue to be left on the graves and the items removed by Sands can still be seen at the cemetery."

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