A local hero whose son died five years ago said he and his wife broke down in tears after visiting his grave to find it had been damaged.
Grandfather-of-three Mr Bob Ashworth and his wife Ann, of Tunnel Street, Burnley, who tend their son Robert’s ash plot in the town’s cemetery every day, said they had been left distraught since last Tuesday when they discovered flowers had been taken out of water, laid down in a pile on top of the memorial stone and ornaments broken. Mr Ashworth, who met Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2003 and received a bravery award after saving a seven-year-old boy from a pack of dogs, said they found the damage after the grass had been cut by Burnley Borough Council workers.
“It’s an absolute disgrace how they left it. On Tuesday they cut the grass at the front and back of the plot. We didn’t get any warning. When we saw the state of it we both just broke down in tears. We put flowers on there and they’ve just laid the pots down. We had a lantern hanging on a chain and one of the chains has been snapped. Everything was just left piled on top of the grave and there was mud all over it.”
Mr Ashworth, who said he has not missed a day attending the cemetery since Robert, a postman, died, said he appreciates council rules state there should not be any items placed behind the grave. But he said the way it had been left was disgusting.
“I understand they have a job to do but they could at least give us some warning, maybe put a notice up or something. It is sickening.
“There’s a 90-year-old man whose wife’s grave is next to my son’s and he was close to tears when he saw how that had been left.”
Robert died suddenly after collapsing at home in The Meadows, Burnley, on January 30th 2010. His dad said: “I cannot speak highly enough of him. He was my precious son and was unbelievable, absolutely fantastic.
“He did everything for me and was the rock of this family.”
A spokesperson for Burnley Council said: “We are sorry if any of the work we’ve been doing has caused any upset.
“We have had a number of complaints that the grassed area around this set of graves was becoming untidy. To address this, we have been mowing the grass, and are now re-seeding it. To do this, we have needed to move flowers and other items to do our grass cutting and carry out the work.
“We would be happy to meet members of the Ashworth family on site and talk through the issues. If any family member of visitor to the cemetery has any questions or concerns about the maintenance work that we do, we would ask them to contact us by calling into the office at the cemetery gates, or by phoning 01282 477148.”