Former Northchapel woman says ‘we should be able to remember mum’

Northchapel church
Northchapel church
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A former Northchapel woman has been fighting a seven year battle over mementoes on her family graves.

Pat Vowels who is now 80 year old and does not drive, lived in Northchapel for nearly 40 years first in Luffs Meadow and later in Piper’s Lane and attended Northchapel School.

Her mother, grandmother and step brother are all buried in the churchyard at St Michael’s Church and Pat travels every three months from Cranleigh to tend the graves.

But she claims she and her brother Don have been told they cannot use plastic flowers and other mementos.

“We were told to put fresh flowers on the grave but I live in Cranleigh and can only get only every three months.

“Why can’t we do something to prove that we still miss Mum, Gran and our brother and still love them, by putting these flowers on their graves.”

Pat said a china angel had been broken and they had been told they couldn’t place a wooden cross on her mother’s grave.

“I had a little metal plaque there about five inches wide and three inches in length but I was told it was dangerous.

“Then I brought a tray of primroses and dug them into Mum’s grave, but they mowed over them.

“I bought three heathers to put on my step brother’s grave, but they have gone.

“I ordered a memorial vase but I was told that if I put that on the grave the church warden would take it off.”

She said her step brother’s grave was some five graves away from her mother’s.

“We went over about two weeks ago to tend the graves and there are about ten graves with plastic flowers on them and there are three wooden crosses in the churchyard.

“What right have they to mow mum’s flowers and make her grave about two feet instead of the five feet it is supposed to be and to push everything we put on her grave away to make it smaller.

“Why is mum’s grave being victimised when she lived in the village for about 35 years?”

Churchwarden Robin Walter told the Observer: “This is a churchyard grave yard and not a municipal cemetery and I do not think Miss Vowels appreciates what a churchyard is in that sense.

“There are regulations which everyone has to adhere to. She has certainly never applied for consent for any form of memento at all.

“It is also clear from the regulations that artificial flowers are not permitted.”

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