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Family discovers they've been visiting dad at wrong grave for 43 years

Callum Jones

Published 
| Last updated 

Family discovers they've been visiting dad at wrong grave for 43 years

A family has been left shocked and devastated after they discovered they were visiting the wrong grave.

Sylvia Ross, 67, has been regularly visiting the grave what she believed to be her father's for over 40 years.

Sylvia buried her father, John Thomas Thompson, at Witton Park Cemetery in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, in 1979.

Sylvia had been visiting the plot for over 40 years. Credit: North News and Pictures
Sylvia had been visiting the plot for over 40 years. Credit: North News and Pictures

However, she received the heartbreaking news that the plot she had been visiting for so long was actually a stranger's, belonging to a man named Fredrick Brown.

Her father was in fact lying in an unmarked grave just yards away.

The family only discovered the mistake from a Facebook post about a wrongly placed plaque at the cemetery, which was being moved by the council.

It was then confirmed Sylvia and her family had been paying their respects at the wrong grave.

A investigation is underway to discover how this mistake happened and how Sylvia's father was buried just two plots away.

Her daughter, Lynette, said: "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."

The family of Fredrick Brown wanted to put a memorial on their double plot, but realised there wasn't enough room so contacted Durham County Council. Sylvia then asked for a marker to be put down on her father's grave so they could correctly identify it.

Only then, were questions raised, as Lynette continued: "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."

When John was buried in 1979, the cemetery was run by Wear Valley District Council, before being handed over to Durham County Council in 2009.

Sylvia's father died in 1979. Credit: North News and Pictures
Sylvia's father died in 1979. Credit: North News and Pictures

Durham County Council’s bereavement services manager Graham Harrison apologised for the error, saying: "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."

He continued: "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."

Surprisingly, this is not the only grave mistake in County Durham, as another one happened fairly recently in Wingate.

In a similar incident, a family spent 17 years visiting a plot which they believed to be their fathers, only to find that a woman was buried there instead.

Featured Image Credit: North News & Pictures

Topics: UK News

Callum Jones
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