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Traveller's anguish after being denied double headstone for husband’s grave at Woodcock Hill Cemetery in Rickmansworth
A traveller says she is "disgusted" and "embarrassed" that her husband’s grave in Rickmansworth will not be allowed a double headstone.
Margaret Rooney says she bought a double plot at Woodcock Hill Cemetery, in Harefield Road, because it is traveller tradition that husband and wife are buried side by side.
Martin Rooney died from a heart attack on October 2 last year, aged 47-years-old.
The widow says that, when she bought the land, she paid for a double grave. However, now Three Rivers District Council officials are only classing the grave as a single plot.
The Irish traveller said: "We don’t believe in husband and wife being buried top and bottom. Side by side is the traditional traveller’s way.
"It’s never known for one to be buried on top of the other."
The mother of six and grandmother of 10 said she is planning on having a special reception for her husband on the anniversary of his death at the cemetery next month.
However, as there is not currently a headstone in place, she says it will bring a great deal of shame to the family.
She said: "It’s embarrassing when family and friends come down. I’m disgusted at what’s happened and it's an absolute joke."
Mrs Rooney married her husband, who came from Rickmansworth, in 1981.
Her daughter, Anne-Marie, said: "We want what we paid for. That’s what we expect. Obviously my mother is still very distressed."
Mrs Rooney said if she wanted a single plot, she would have bought one, adding that she would "rather dig him up" than be separated from him or buried on top.
The widow, who tends to her husband’s grave every weekend, said there are other double headstones in the cemetery, and she cannot understand why she is not being allowed one.
She added: "My 14-year-old son, James, wants to come down here to visit his father. He also wants to bring his friends down, but with no headstone it’s embarrassing. It’s not fair for him to have to look at this."
Mrs Rooney said: "This land is peaceful, but that’s no good if there’s no peace in the heart. I’ve been through too much this year and I won’t put up a single headstone."
The council’s chief environmental services manager, Alison Page, said: "We aim to be as flexible and helpful in meeting people's requirements where they are legal and within our policy which aims to be fair to all bereaved residents.
"Although the local cemeteries are primarily for local people we aim to be as flexible and accommodating as we can in responding to requests from people who do not live in the district."
The council said it does not allow advance booking of grave spaces as, in the past, plots could be left empty for decades, although it does try to accommodate the burial of spouses in the same grave space by placing one on top of the other.
The council is unable to comment on individual circumstances.
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