‘Utterly devastated’ family have been visiting WRONG grave for 40 years


A heartbroken family have spoken of their shock after discovering they had been visiting the wrong grave for more than 43 years.

Sylvia Ross was stunned to be told the grave she believed her dad John was buried in since 1979, was actually home to another coffin.

The 67-year-old and her daughter Lynette only realised the error after they spotted a Facebook post about a wrongly placed plaque which was being moved by the council.

The pair have now been left devastated after it was confirmed they’d been paying respects to the wrong grave at Witton Park Cemetery in Bishop Auckland, County Durham.

The discovery comes after the Bell family, also from Durham, endured an eight-week wait to bury their mum Hilda whose last wishes were to be buried next to her husband Thomas at Holy Trinity Church in Wingate.

An investigation is now underway to discovered how the mistake was made.

Lynette, 42, also from Bishop Auckland, said: “We’re disgusted, and my mam is heartbroken.

“I never met my grandad, but my mam has been visiting his grave for 43 years and is utterly devastated.

“She’s heartbroken as she says her dad has laid there thinking not one of us cared about him, with no flowers and no visits, nothing.”

It is understood the family had been visiting the grave of a Mr Frederick Brown who also died in the same year, in 1979.

Sylvia’s father, John Thomas Thompson, who died aged 51 from a heart condition, had been lying in an unmarked grave just two plots away.

The blunder was only confirmed when the Brown family wanted to put up a memorial on their double plot, but realised there was not enough room so contacted Durham County Council.

Lynette added: “When my grandad died 43 years ago, before I was born, mam called the council to ask them to put a marker where he had been buried so she knew which plot she was going to.

“They put it on the plot we’ve been visiting my whole life and have taken flowers to every Birthday, Christmas, and Father’s Day while he has actually laid there with nothing.

“It’s just disgusting, how can they get something so simple so wrong.”

The cemetery was run by Wear Valley District Council when John was buried in 1979 but was handed over to Durham County Council in 2009 when it became a unitary authority.

Graham Harrison, Durham County Council’s bereavement services manager, said: “We are sorry for the distress this error has caused the family.

“At the time, the cemetery would have been managed by Wear Valley District Council.

“Once we were made aware of the historic mistake, we carefully moved the items to the correct grave within the quickest possible time scale.

“Although the grave has now been corrected, this does not take away from the pain the family has experienced, and we would like to reiterate our sincerest apologies for any hurt that has been caused.”