Heartbroken Langold family outraged after finding grave covered in soil just days before funeral of a "dad in a million"

A family heartbroken at the death of a popular Bassetlaw man were caused further upset after finding another loved ones grave covered beneath a mound of soil – just days before his funeral.

Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 3:41 pm
The grave site after the rubble had been moved to the side.
The grave site after the rubble had been moved to the side.

Andrew Bowker, from Langold, died unexpectedly on December 19, aged just 56.

Four days before his funeral his family went to check the site of his grave and were devastated to find the adjacent grave, belonging to Andrew’s father, John, covered under a mound of rubble and soil.

Andrew’s son, Jack, a district councillor and chairman of Bassetlaw District Council, said the family gave the “absolutely disgraceful” mess at Langold Cemetery the benefit of the doubt as the diggers “might have had to rush off.”

The rubble covering John Bowker's grave at Langold Cemetery.

But they were upset to see it in the same state over the next two days.

On receiving the complaint, Steven Baker, the director of the North Anston-based grounds contractor Rent-A-Cut, that has maintained the cemetery for over 20 years and subcontract professional grave diggers, went to the site.

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The family claimed he did not “see what the problem was.”

Andrew Bowker and Bassetlaw District Council councillor Jack Bowker.

Mr Bowker said: “I thought it was quite obvious what the problem was.

“My grandma's got to see about five tonnes of muck dumped over her husband's grave and she's burying her son - that's what the problem was.

“We thought, well they're not going to do anything about it, they had the chance to rectify it, so we just removed the muck ourselves.”

The cemetery is run by Hodsock Parish Council.

The family took it upon themselves to remove the rubble from the grave, with the help of Parish councillor Graham Coe.

Mr Bowker said: “Everybody that I spoke to at the council was great.

"One of the parish councillors served in the local regiment with my dad and he was fuming about it.

“It's not the council that’s responsible for doing this, it’s a contractor that they employ.

“It's not an acceptable standard of work that was carried out.”

Mr Baker said that “all proper protocols for placement of the spoil” had been observed by the sub-contractors.

He said in common practice, the soil is placed on tin sheets to protect the ground below, which is placed in the next available place to enable the efficient backfilling of the grave.

He added that this is frequently the adjacent grave, when there is not a vacant plot and “seldom generates complaints.”

Mr Baker said: “Although I understand placing spoil on adjacent graves isn’t ideal, it is frequently necessary.

“The practice of placing spoil on adjacent graves pending graves being backfilled is an established custom and practice at most cemeteries throughout the country.

“It’s a matter for the parish council to decide on but if they decide to end the current status quo and stop what is established practice, it will result in considerably more manual handling and the use of more machinery.

“Such extra work could increase grave digging costs by as much as 200 per cent.

“I am confident that graves are dug in a respectful manner and that once backfilled adjacent graves are left in a clean, tidy condition and that most cemetery visitors are happy with the work we do.”

The funeral went ahead as planned on January 21, at St Lukes Church, in Langold.

Mr Bowker, senior, worked was a member of the Territorial Army as part of the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment.

He also worked for the National Coal Board and the NHS.

Writing on Facebook, Mr Bowker said: “My dad really was one in a million, and was the best dad anyone could have wished for.”

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