Harworth mum’s campaign to let her daughter visit tragic dad’s grave

A Harworth mum who was widowed last year has launched a campaign to improve disabled access at the town cemetery so her wheelchair-using daughter can visit her dad’s grave.

Monday, 15th March 2021, 3:35 pm
Updated Monday, 15th March 2021, 3:36 pm

Laura Bolton’s husband Matthew passed away at the tragically-young age of 32, in July last year, following a diagnosis of oesophageal cancer.

After realising that five-year-old Beau, who was born with spina bifida, will soon be unable to reach Matthew’s gravestone without crossing other graves, she launched an online petition.

Laura, 30, said: "It quickly became clear that once the next row ‘fills up’ Beau will be unable to visit her dad.

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Beau Bolton visits her dad's grave in Harworth Cemetery.

"When I pass away, I too will be buried in the same plot so Beau won’t be able to visit me either.”

Laura approached Harworth and Bircotes Town Council who, she says, cannot find a solution at the moment, but have considered her concerns.

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“I’m against the clock as the cemetery will continue to fill up,” she said. “This isn’t just for Beau, cemeteries should be accessible for wheelchair users to pay their respects to their loved ones without going over someone else’s grave.”

Laura’s 200 signature target has nearly been reached, even though she only set the petition up two days ago.

"Beau was the apple of Matthew’s eye,” she said. “They were best friends – and I was the third wheel.

"She can’t quite wrap her head around his death at the moment.

"She will use a wheelchair for the rest of her life. She is so intelligent. She makes me so proud.

"She has lost so much in her life and has so many obstacles, but she takes it all in her stride.

"She’s a nice-natured little soul.”

Matthew was diagnosed in 2017 and given three years, but passed away just shy of that prognosis.

"He had a trial in London that didn’t work and he was due to get chemotherapy, but then Covid happened and they stopped it,” added Laura.

Matthew, who was a bespoke cabinet maker before working at kitchen warehouse in Thorne, was born and bred in Harworth and was “really popular in the village.”

Town council chairwoman June Evans said the issue of access to Matthew’s grave was raised as an ‘item of information, by a councillor during the cemetery health and safety report at the last meeting on Monday March 8

It was decided the town council would gather more information and explore options before its next meeting.

Coun Evans said it was ‘disappointing’ the petition was created just three days after the issue was raised.

She added: “I wish Laura had contacted the town council directly, and would urge her to do so in the future.

"At the meeting the town clerk had no name, address or contact details and indeed, no awareness of the problem, until it was raised.

“I realise that most people are not aware of the protocols that councils have to follow regarding agenda items/factual information presented/discussion and consideration, followed by a proposal – why would they?

“We all understand that this is a mother wanting the best for her child; the fact that this issue was an ‘item of information’ now gives council the opportunity to explore any feasible options.”

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