Grimsby mum told by North East Lincolnshire Council to remove 'unauthorised' memorial to baby son

Baby Callum died from bronchial pneumonia back in 2010. Credit: MEN

A mother says she is "absolutely heartbroken" after being told to remove her baby son's memorial from a cem

Leanne Thompson designed and installed the personalised memorial - made of acrylic resin and featuring children’s TV character Igglepiggle - after speaking to someone at North East Lincolnshire Council who she says gave the go ahead.

But the authority has since declared that the memorial to baby Callum, who died of pneumonia in 2010, is “unauthorised” as it is not made of stone.

Leanne, from Grimsby, has been given until 30 September to remove it and says the ruling has left her “absolutely heartbroken”.

Around a year ago Leanne, 35, decided to have a new memorial installed at his grave in Grimsby Cemetery and spent just under £600. 

But this week she received a letter from the council that stated the memorial was "unauthorised" because it is not made of stone.The letter asks her to remove the memorial "no later than" 30 September.Though Leanne says she was advised over the phone that she could have the memorial installed, a spokesperson for the council said permission needed to be given "in writing" but appreciated that it "can be upsetting when we ask someone to change a loved one’s grave"."I spoke to the council because I wanted a memorial garden for Callum," said Leanne.

“Before I went ahead with it I rang them and told them it was made out of acrylic resin. The man on the phone said 'normally it's stone, but leave it with me, I'll check and get back to you'."A couple of days later he got back to me and said I can have it as long as I can fit it myself, so I went ahead and had it fitted," she said."I've always wanted him to have a really nice, bright garden and have somewhere to go and sit with him. Then, this week, I received a letter saying it had been brought to their attention that an unauthorised memorial has been placed above the grave, and that I need to remove it by September 30."My heart went in my mouth and I just started crying. I was absolutely heartbroken."

Speaking about Callum's death, Leanne said it had been "torture" after finding him dead at home in 2010 after a diagnosis of bronchial pneumonia.

"A week later I took him back to the doctors and they gave him an inhaler, but the day after he'd passed away in his sleep, and I had to try to resuscitate him," she said."Part of me went with him. I suffer from anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)."Leanne says she has attempted to call the council to discuss the letter but has encountered issues when doing so. She said she can't understand what harm the memorial is doing to anybody, and believes she can design and decorate her son's grave as she pleases because she owns the land."It's been there nearly a year, so why now? It's not doing any harm to anybody, it's no danger, it's not sharp, the stones are inside," said Leanne."It's a lot safer than half of the stones that are in there which are half falling down, so why is my son's grave bothering them when they really need to concentrate on these big stones that are half fallen down and a danger to people and they're just putting tape around them?"We paid for that plot through the council - it says in black and white that we are the landowner, that is our grave - so we should be able to do whatever we like as long as it's safe."I'm trying to fight in all ways to keep it where it is, and I'm not going to back down. People don't have the money these days to pay £3,000 for a headstone."Responding to the complaint, a spokesperson for North East Lincolnshire Council said: “Our staff are always willing to help families with any enquiries about cemetery regulations and how they apply to a loved one’s grave.“The regulations have been in place for many years and it’s important that we treat all grave owners equally when dealing with such sensitive matters.“All memorials must be installed by a registered monumental mason and comply with British Standards. This memorial is made of plastic, which quickly deteriorates and becomes brittle. In the past, we’ve found these memorials are easily damaged and when they break, they are very sharp.“An application needs to be submitted and permission given in writing before a memorial can be installed. They also need to be insured.“It can be upsetting when we ask someone to change a loved one’s grave and we have invited the family to speak with us to discuss this sensitive matter further."

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