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1st Jul, 2022

Rugby charity veteran distraught after treasured 15-year-old rose tree dug up from family grave

Editorial Correspondent 20th Apr, 2022 Updated: 20th Apr, 2022

AN UPSET Rugby woman says she feels like ‘somebody has rinsed my heart out’ after discovering a treasured 15-year-old rose tree has been removed from a family grave.

Beryl Emery said she was distraught to find the ‘gorgeous’ Scarlet Velvet tree had been dug up from her uncle’s graveside at Croop Hill Cemetery by Rugby Borough Council (RBC) workers.

Beryl, 80, has many relatives buried at the Addison Road cemetery, including her parents, her husband, and aunts and uncles.

The rose tree was panted in memory of her uncle and auntie Ron and Olive Hallam by their son, who has since passed away.

Beryl said her daughter was in tears after visiting to tend the family graves and finding the tree had been dug up.

“I felt as if somebody had rinsed my heart out,” she said.

“It’s a rose tree called Scarlett Velvet – and it is like velvet, the petals fold back and it smells gorgeous.

“Ron and Olive’s son bought the rose tree for his mum and dad, and we planted it.

“We’d given something to my auntie and uncle, and we got the pleasure of seeing it flower every year. They would have been pleased to see it.”

Beryl received a British Empire Medal from the Queen in 2013 for helping to set up Rugby’s branch of Parkinson’s UK in the mid-80s after watching her late husband Anthony battle the disease, and for her volunteer work with the RSPCA.

The Sycamore Grove resident says she and her daughter would prune the small rose tree – which was planted directly on Ron’s grave – twice a year to prevent it from overgrowing or becoming untidy.

She says older, bigger trees which have been planted at graves at the cemetery remained untouched while hers was dug up.

She said: “I thought, who could do a thing like that? The rose tree wasn’t hanging over another grave or a footpath or anything. It’s been there 15 years.

“I’m very annoyed about it because they could have contacted me first.”

When she complained to the council, she was told workers had been ’tidying up’ at the cemetery.

“Digging up is not tidying up,” she said. “The tree doesn’t belong to the council, it belongs to me – and I want it replaced.”

A spokesman for Rugby Borough Council said: “The council’s Cemetery Regulations, which each family receive following a burial at a council cemetery, state we do not permit the planting of trees and shrubs on, and around, graves.

“This regulation has been in place since 1977 and is standard at cemeteries across the country, chiefly to avoid the roots of plants disturbing the stability of stone memorials.

“While we endeavour to apply the regulation with sensitivity, in some cases plants must be removed in order to allow maintenance of individual graves or the grounds maintenance of the cemetery.”

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