THE parents of a stillborn baby were left heartbroken after shoddy workmanship by cemetery staff ‘desecrated’ their son’s grave.
Amanda and Simon Beanland were appalled to find a broken paving slab, mud and weeds strewn across the memorial to their son David, at the baby cemetery at Carleton Cemetery.
Mr Beanland, himself a landscape gardener, pulled the slabs out with his bare hands in order to restore the grave.
He said: “I have never seen such shoddy workmanship, especially in an area where you are dealing with such sensitivity.”
Mr and Mrs Beanland had given the council permission to create an area of space in front of their son’s headstone in order to demonstrate a new policy allocating 18 inches of space for parents to create their own individual shrines in.
But the couple, who now live in Scotland, were appalled when they saw what had been done.
Now Blackpool Council has apologised to the couple for their distress.
Mrs Beanland, 28, said: “What we found was a paving slab cut in half with a saw, and put around the front of our son’s headstone.
“Not only is a flagstone far too deep to use, it’s also far too big in this section.
“I was also devastated by the fact that the area within the 18 inches of space was full of the soil, weeds and turf that the person who had done this had removed from the ground.”
Mr Beanland, 39, said: “I decided to come back the following day and restore the grave myself.
“I bought three 18-inch kerb stones, a stepping stone for the middle of the grave front and two bags of decorative stone as well as tarpaulin. We managed to create a beautiful grave front for our son for less than £25.”
Mr and Mrs Beanland’s son David passed away in April 2007 when they were living in Blackpool.
The couple, who have three other children – Kya, five, Eleanor, three and Adam, two – now live in Bo’ness, near Falkirk, but return to the resort several times a year to visit their son’s grave.
The council has now written to the couple to apologise.
John Blackledge, assistant director for leisure and commercial services, said: “Over the last few years we’ve been working closely with a group of parents including Mrs Beanland to ensure the baby cemetery area is well maintained and parents can have a place to leave mementos.
“I’m extremely disappointed with the quality of work that has been carried out in this area and I’ve personally written to Mrs Beanland to pass on my sincere apologies.
“The area the Beanlands have created around their son’s grave is a perfect example of how we’d like to see this section maintained. I hope other families follow their lead.
“We have an ongoing situation where not all families are abiding by the conditions of use of the area, which were established through consultation with bereaved parents and the hospital.
“This is an issue that will we need to address, however we are sensitive to feelings of the bereaved parents and families.”
The policy allowing 18 inches of space in front of each headstone was introduced last year meaning some parents who had unofficially created bigger shrines in front of their newborn’s graves will have to curtail their space.
In the past few years the baby cemetery has undergone a £40,000 upgrade after the council linked up with the Friends of Carleton Cemetery Babies to make improvements including a sculpture, benches, paths, fencing, landscaping and a memorial wall.
Karen Nelson, a member of the friends group, said: “We were disappointed with what happened at this grave but overall we have worked hard with the council over the past few years to vastly improve the Carleton Babies’ Memorial Garden.