High Peak church denies gran’s dying wish grave stone

Brenda McDonald with husband Jim McDonald
Brenda McDonald with husband Jim McDonald

A heartbroken woman says ‘pedantic’ church bosses have denied her grandmother’s dying wish by banning her chosen gravestone - saying it is too ‘glary’.

Natasha Manson, 34, told how her grandmother Brenda McDonald had picked out the polished blue stone for her husband Jim McDonald when he died in June 2017.

However the grief-stricken Buxton grandmother-of-six’s health went rapidly downhill after Jim’s death.

After contracting chest and water infections she eventually died of sepsis and was never able to order the stone before she died in February this year.

Brenda’s family knew she had wanted Jim’s grave marked with the blue stone and so went ahead and ordered it for the devoted couple’s shared grave at Burbage Church.

Natasha was shocked to be told by officials that due to a policy change coloured stones were not permitted.

She was also told the stone was not allowed due to its gold lettering and white-coloured rose decorations - which were also banned.

After appealing against the decision to the Diocese of Derby store assistant Natasha was told no exceptions could be made.

Instead of Brenda’s preferred memorial stone she and beloved husband Jim have a small, plastic marker on their grave.

Branding the decision ‘pedantic’ Natasha said: “I can’t see who is going to be affected by the glare from a blue polished stone - and there are loads of them in the graveyard already.

“They don’t realise how upsetting it is for families when they cannot give their loved ones the funeral they wanted.

“This has made me really angry and I’m not complaining just for myself - it’s for others in the same position.

“I can’t see the issue with having gold lettering and a little emblem on the side.”

She told how the decision had upset the family ‘more than anything’

Natasha said: “We’ve not been able to give her what she wanted - we’ve appealed it and they’ve decided no so there’s nowhere we can go from here.

“We’re now at the point where we will probably have to buy a stone that the church specifies.”

A spokesperson from the Diocese of Derby said “We’re sorry the family are disappointed that their chosen gravestone did not comply with the churchyard regulations.

“The regulations are intended to ensure the conservation of all our churchyards and to encourage good design and a degree of uniformity.

“We believe there is enough scope in the regulations to allow an acceptable design in the vast majority of requests.”