Woman's grave left in a "complete and utter mess' by Lewes Cemetery workers

A man from Eastbourne was left ‘upset and shocked’ after his mum’s grave was almost destroyed by Lewes District Council cemetery workers.

Hilda Winter’s grave at Lewes Cemetery was left under a mountain of chalk when contractors began digging a grave next to hers over the weekend.

The 73-year-old’s funeral flowers were destroyed and left in a pile, after a digger was said to have driven over her grave.

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Jason Winter, Hilda’s son, said: “My sister and brother went up to our Mum’s grave this weekend. After seeing what had happened, my sister rang me crying saying that mum's grave had been destroyed.

Jason Winter, Hilda’s son, said: “My sister and brother went up to our Mum’s grave this weekend. After seeing what had happened, my sister rang me crying saying that mum's grave had been destroyed.

“The council worker had run mum's grave over with the digger. Squashed a lot of her flowers and a lot of them had just been thrown into a heap.

“The grave just up from my mum had just recently been dug, all the chalk they had dug out had been left in a big pile and they had used other people’s headstones as shuttering supports.

“They put shuttering ply against the headstones and then piled all the chalk against that. Then, alongside my mums grave they had put some shuttering ply which had begun to fall over and stuck some bits of wood underneath it, which is really dangerous and made a complete and utter mess of the whole site.

“It’s really upsetting, I thought we had done the hard bit by laying mum to rest and we’ve now got to put up with this. I went up and saw it yesterday and took some pictures and was pretty shocked and upset by it.”

The 73-year-old’s funeral flowers were destroyed and left in a pile, after digger was said to have driven over her grave.

Jason lost his mum to Covid on his birthday last year (December 13). Mother-of-five Hilda Wilder had lived on the Neville Estate in Lewes for 45 years and would have celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary this year.

The Winter family planned Hilda’s funeral through Grace’s Funeral Directors in Ringmer, to give what Jason described as the ‘send off she deserved’.

Jason said: “My mum got the four black horses and glass carriage that she always said she wanted. There were bagpipes playing at her funeral and 80 people turned up for the service at the Church [because of Covid-19 restrictions]. “

However, it was at the funeral where issues started to be raised regarding the grave, as Hilda’s casket did not fit into the space dug for her.

Hilda Winter’s grave at Lewes Cemetery was left under a mountain of chalk when contractors began digging a grave next to hers this weekend.

Jason explained: “They had not dug the width of the grave to the actual size of mum’s casket and we could quite clearly see she was not going to fit.

“There were two cemetery workmen that were there who were obviously waiting to fill mum’s grave in. We had to get them to come up and remove the temporary shuttering around the grave to stop it falling in.

“So we just about squeezed mum into her grave. Which was a pretty poor thing to have to go through and some family members were quite upset about it.”

Jason and his siblings relayed these concerns back to the council, but they said the district council either blamed the landscape contractors at the cemetery – Idverde UK – or did not reply at all.

Jason and his siblings relayed these concerns back to the council, but they said the district council either blamed the landscape contractors at the cemetery – Idverde UK – or did not reply at all.

Following a Facebook post by Jason, Lewes District Council park manager Andy Frost made contact with the Eastbourne resident on Monday (January 24) to apologise for the incident.

Jason said: “I got a call from Andy Frost and he said how sorry he was and how disgusted he was by what he had seen. He had got workers back there on January 24 to remove the chalk pile and clear mum's site and put her flowers back properly.

"It does look a lot better now, but a lot was sorted today which could have been sorted over the last week or so.

“It’s not just us, other people since my mum has been buried have made complaints as well about the way their loved one’s graves have been left. It’s pretty poor and disgusting to be honest. The damage that has been made to other people’s gravestones - doesn't seem to be any care or respect or any thought gone into what these workmen are doing.”

A statement from the Lewes District Council said: "We have spoken to Mr Winter and apologised unreservedly for the distress this has caused. Our contractor did not carry out the work as we expected and we have made it very clear to them that it was totally unacceptable.

"We have visited the grave and tidied the area and made it safe. Other work is still needed and this will be carried out in the coming days."

The Winter family spent £1,200 on Hilda’s funeral through Grace’s Funeral Directors in Ringmer, to give what Jason describes as the ‘send off she deserved’. Including four black horses and a glass carriage.

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Jason and his siblings relayed these concerns back to the council, but they said the district council either blamed the landscape contractors at the cemetery – Idverde UK – or did not reply at all.