Malvern mum's distress after son's headstone removed

Image source, Jo Corbett
Image caption,
Ms Corbett was told the stone was "not in keeping" with others in the cemetery

A single mother says she has been left "shattered" after a council removed her son's headstone without asking her permission.

Max Corbett-Gardener died aged four three years ago from complications associated with severe epilepsy.

His mother Jo, of Malvern, Worcestershire, said she was told the star-shaped stone for Max was "not in keeping" with others in the cemetery.

Malvern Town Council said a complaint was made about applying cemetery rules.

'Poor little chap'

Ms Corbett said it had taken her three years to feel able to organise a stone for Max.

She said: "It would have been his seventh birthday on the Sunday, and this was like a birthday present to him from me.

"I chose a star-shaped stone because I wanted something suitable for Max - something personal. This stone is just so perfect for my poor little chap."

Image source, Jo Corbett
Image caption,
Ms Corbett said the star-shaped stone was "so perfect" for Max

Ms Corbett said the council had removed the stone on Monday, three days after it was erected.

"I was totally unaware this was going on," she said. "The council did not contact me and it was the stonemason who told me he'd been ordered to remove it.

Image source, Jo Corbett
Image caption,
Ms Corbett said it took her a long time to feel able to organise the stone for Max

"I feel upset, distressed and angry. We have been through so much as a family. I could understand if the grave was uncared for or unsightly, but it isn't."

Ms Corbett said she was aware of council rules governing the size and upkeep of stones, but not regarding their shape.

She said she had been told the grave would have been allowed if it had been in the children's section of Great Malvern Cemetery, but she had opted to have it in the lawn cemetery, close to other relatives.

Malvern Town Council said it felt "great sympathy" for Ms Corbett's loss. It said the mason had failed to consult with it over the shape.

"We have a conformity of shapes in our lawn cemetery," the council said. "We were contacted by people who objected to the shape. The longer it stayed up, the harder the process would have been.

"It was a very difficult decision to remove it but one we had to make straight away."

Correction 9 June 2015: This story has been amended following information from Malvern Town Council about the nature of the complaint.

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