Grieving Doncaster widow threatened with court action after planting flowers near husband's grave

A grieving widow from Doncaster has been threatened with court action after planting flowers near to her late husband's grave.

Friday, 27th July 2018, 4:59 pm
Updated Monday, 30th July 2018, 5:37 pm
Norma Baxter pictured by the Flowerbed in question along with Andrea Hutchinson, Annette Webb, Deb Rutter and Steve Richards, friends and supporters of Norma

After the death of her husband Phillip last February, Norma Baxter, 79, of Broad Lane, has been visiting his burial plot at Sykehouse Holy Trinity Church, daily to maintain the area.

Initially the plot was overgrown and full of weeds so Norma, with help from her family, cleared rubble near to the grave and left potted plants to brighten up the area.

Norma Baxter holds a photograph of her late husband Phil

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Her granddaughter Katie Gismondi said: "Someone complained about the pots, and we were told if they were in the ground it would be different, so she planted them instead."

Since then, she has faced a number of issues with the church, who have now threatened to take her to court for 'stealing the land'.

The church maintain the grass areas, but Katie says that rubble and rubbish is left over after digging raves.

Norma has now been told to get rid of the plants, without any explanation from the church as to why.

Norma Baxter pictured near to Phillip's grave with Steve Richards, Andrea Hutchinson, Annette Webb and Deb Rutter, friends and supporters of Norma

Katie said: "The Dean of the area has been out to her house, and we asked why but we haven't been given an answer.

"I could understand if it was over the top. She said she's happy to attend it two or three times a day, and that if it ever came to the day where she couldn't then they could dig it over."

"It's causing her anxiety. They said she's got to dig it up, it's ridiculous."

Katie says that her grandmother has gained support from the Friends of Sykehouse on Facebook, many of whom have family buried in the Church yard.

"All the community are behind her, there's a few elderly residents who have family buried in the Church Yard, they all say it's nice," she said.

According to Katie, the church said they must destroy the flowerbed by the end of the month.

She added: "Due to the amount of support my Grandma has they have had meetings behind closed doors and even people on the committee have only found out later that any meeting took place when they have been informed that a decision has been made.

"No one can give a clear answer as to why there is an issue with her tidying up the Church yard."

Norma has lived in the area for over 30 years, and despite everything won't move, as she wants to be close to her late husband.

Katie said: "Once my Grandfather died we asked if she wanted to come and live nearer us, about half an hour away. But she won't leave the area. She knows if she doesn't live there she can't be buried in the church yard with my grandfather."

Norma has so far gained support from over 90 Sykehouse residents, who are all in agreement that 'Norma's corner' should be kept intact

Norma said: "Phillip loved gardening and he loved flowers so I've been doing my best to keep it looking nice for him.

"I can't sleep because of all this, it's causing a lot of stress."

Archdeacon of Doncaster, Steve Wilcockson said: “The Parish of Sykehouse is currently without a Vicar but the Area Dean consulted with the Archdeacon of Doncaster who has visited the site and has proposed a way forward in which the parish and the family may proceed on an amicable basis.

"It is not yet known if his advice has been accepted by all concerned.”