A grieving husband today told how he was left devastated after finding out his wife was buried in the wrong grave.
The “horrendous mistake” was spotted after Mark Bowley visited his wife Peta’s plot at Fleetwood Cemetery and saw the new headstone he had ordered – on a different plot.
Mr Bowley, a coach for Fleetwood Town FC, from Thornton, said: “It is an horrendous mistake that has devastated the family.
“On top of losing someone we love we are having to deal with this too.”
Mrs Bowley, a mother-of-three who had worked as a model before working for the family’s fish merchant business, died in Trinity Hospice two years to the day she was diagnosed with cancer.
It was only when the headstone was erected a fortnight ago, six months after she was buried, that Mr Bowley discovered his wife of 29 years had been buried in the wrong plot.
The 54-year-old added: “I’d gone to the grave to make sure the flowers were OK, and I was looking around thinking the grass was getting a bit long.
“I just happened to notice Peta’s headstone had been installed on the wrong grave.
“I was devastated and couldn’t believe it.”
Mrs Bowley, who died on April 1 aged 52, was allocated grave number 67 - the number that appeared on the paperwork - but was actually buried in plot 87, on the row in front.
Mr Bowley had been paying his respects to his wife at plot 87. But the headstone was erected by Wyre Memorials on October 17 at plot 67, according to information passed on by Wyre Council, which runs the cemetery on Beach Road.
As soon as the mistake was spotted the headstone was moved to the plot where Mrs Bowley was actually buried.
Council bosses have since apologised to Mr Bowley for the mistake. They stressed it was an administration error and he had not been visiting an empty grave for the last six months.
Mr Bowley has a meeting booked with the operations director tomorrow.
He added: “My wife was very dignified and fought the disease, which started as breast cancer and unfortunately went on to be a brain tumour.
“I know she will be looking down on us now and smiling - she’ll be having a giggle about this.
“But I don’t want anyone else to suffer like we have done.
“I want to get to the bottom of exactly how this happened, and I have questions that I need answering.
“I want to know how this happened in the first place.”
Mr Bowley praised the response of Wyre Memorials, the company which installed the headstone, for acting so quickly to rectify the mistake.
He said: “I was told that the last 30 years they had never come across this before.
“Wyre Memorials is in no way to blame for what happened. They literally went off the plans drawn up by the council.”
John Wilson, owner of Wyre Memorials, on Warren Street, Fleetwood, said: “I cannot imagine what that gentleman went through. To lose a wife at such an early age is so distressing.
“The realisation of seeing your wife’s name on a headstone is bad enough.
“As soon as we found out I straight away came to Fleetwood and we rectified things immediately.”
A spokesman for Wyre Council said: “The family has been correctly visiting the plot she was buried in, so there is no question of them paying their respects to an empty grave.
“A problem only occurred when the headstone was placed on the original plot because the paperwork was wrong.
“For this we hold our hands up and apologise but the stone was moved as soon as the mistake came to light and it was only in the wrong place for a few hours.
“We have always considered that grave to belong to Mrs Bowley and the correct paperwork has now been issued. As a result of the error, Wyre Council has changed working practices within bereavement services to prevent this happening again.”