Young widow’s grave upset wrecks wedding memories

Joanna and Jay Preston.
Joanna and Jay Preston.

A young widow from Bedford is distraught after flowers and other personal effects were removed from her late husband’s grave.

Joanna Preston of Queens Drive, Putnoe, was left devastated after finding flowers, vases and other items lovingly placed at the graveside of her husband Jay had been moved without her or her family’s permission. The grave, at Kempston Cemetery, was then turfed over.

Jay died, aged 38, on March 30 after a long, brave battle fighting cancer.

Fighting back tears, Joanna told the T&C: “I am very hurt and disgusted at the items on his graveside that we placed there since we laid him to rest have been moved without our consent or any notification.

“The way the things were moved is not thoughtful and very disrespectful to everyone concerned.”

Jay courageously endured a string of operations and chemotherapy sessions after being diagnosed with a brain tumour but was determined to marry Joanna, his partner of seven years.

They married in Octoberbut he was taken ill during the wedding reception and had to be admitted to hospital by ambulance.

Mrs Preston said: “He was so determined for us to marry, but the ceremony was too much for him. The happy memories of our wedding day have been ruined by what has happened.

“We all put a lot of work into tending his grave and it’s not even two months since he was buried. I feel those responsible have failed Jay, myself and friends and family.

“They should have contacted me to inform us they were going to remove all the flowers and other items.

“It’s very distressing for us all – I’m still hurting.”

A spokesman for Kempston Town Council, which is responsible for the cemetery, also the burial site of local war heroes, said: “The rules state that all graves will be turfed over and maintained by the cemetery staff and the planting of shrubs, roses, flowers on graves is not permitted.

“Cemetery staff have been instructed to remove any such items placed on the graves without authorisation.

“The cemetery supervisor has also confirmed that the plants and vases were removed and all the plants were placed in one pot at the head of the grave so that the family could take them away if they so wished.

“None of the vases, pots or plants were damaged in the process. The grave was then turfed over to a satisfactory standard.”

But Joanna said: “Jay fought so bravely for 20 months. He was a kind man, he was very helpful and respectful to everyone and loved his friends and family.

“I think he would be annoyed and distressed at what has happened –as I am.

“I’m from Poland originally and I am a deeply religious person. On a visit to Poland Jay saw how well graves were treated over there and would have been very upset at what has happened.

“How his grave was kept would have been important to him as well as to his loving family, friends and myself.”

Bedford MP Richard Fuller said: “I was saddened to read about his illness and passing, and distressed to learn of the treatment and respect for his grave subsequent to his burial.

“This must have been soul destroying for his wife and his family.”

A close friend of the family added: “Jay fought for his life, and went through hell to spend an extra few months with his family and wife and this is how Kempston Cemetery treat him.

“His mother and wife, who visit the grave virtually every day, are distraught.

“Losing a son and a husband is hard enough to deal with, but having this just seven weeks after laying him to rest is outrageous.”