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Thetford mother battles over son’s grave

Maria Stewart, who is fighting a reinforcement of cemetery rules. Picture Mark Westley
Maria Stewart, who is fighting a reinforcement of cemetery rules. Picture Mark Westley

A grieving Thetford mother hopes to overturn town council policy about memorabilia on her son’s grave.

Maria Stewart’s son, Ravi Francisco Ferro, died in March 2005 aged eight months old from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), otherwise known as cot death.

A letter was found by Maria on Ravi’s grave in the London Road cemetery on the anniversary of his death this year telling her that non-compliant items had to be removed.

She said: “I was in shock, to be given this letter at such a difficult time, I just couldn’t handle it.”

Maria said she had spent a consderable amount of money on railings and marble stones and was given a concrete vase by Ravi’s Portuguese grandparents, who only visit England a couple of times a year.

She said: “I just want his resting place to be a reflection of a child that was loved and is missed so much. The council have a point with some not being maintained but surely this could be looked at on a case-by-case basis.”

Maria has gained 500 signatures on a petition and hopes to involve the Portuguese community too.

She said: “I don’t want to be aggressive and argue with the council but I would like them to understand and see that there is a town full of people upset by this.

“I have seen things have been taken from graves already and I am terrified that Ravi’s will be next.”

Thetford Town Council said its cemetery committee was happy to discuss issues and the decision to reinforce the 30-year-old rules was due to items placed on grassed areas affecting maintenance.

A council spokeswoman said: “On a lawn cemetery a foundation stone with a headstone can be placed and vases can be sunk into the foundation stone with two additional vases on that but nothing must be placed on to the grassed area.

“We have not banned flowers, artificial flowers or personal items and generally allow anything that is not dangerous or offensive to be placed on the foundation, providing it does not overhang. We do not impose limits on wreaths or personal items as long as they are placed on the foundation.”

For the English version of the petition, go to www.change.org/p/cemetery-committee-of-thetford-town-council-stop-the-memorabilia-being-taken-from-my-son-ravis-grave-by-thetford-town-council

For the Portuguese version, go to www.change.org/p/cemetery-committee-of-thetford-town-council-stop-the-memorabilia-being-taken-from-my-son-ravis-grave-by-thetford-town-council/u/22696602

For details on cemetery rules, go to www.thetfordtowncouncil.gov.uk/residents/cemetery/

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