A PLACE of comfort, a memorial tree at Robin Hood Crematorium is special to the Smith family who lovingly tended it and for four years placed mementoes to a father and son sadly passedaway.
Children’s paintings, cards, candles and photographs adorned the tree and the family - who paid £500 for the privilege - derived peace after the deaths of father and husband Peter Smith and son and brother Jamie who was only 28 years old when he died of a diabetes- related infection three and a half years ago.
Now cemetery staff have devastated the still grieving Smiths after clearing away all their mementoes into black bin bags, losing treasured pictures in the process.
“My mother and I went to put flowers on my brother and dad’s memorial tree last Friday and when we got there everything was gone, pictures that my brother’s children had drawn, a cross, vases, candles, letters and poems. We went to the office extremely upset and shocked.
“They said we are not allowed to put things round or on the tree, apparently it’s in the small print, so after nearly four years they took it all away without telling us. They just handed all our stuff to us in black bag. There was no compassion at all,” said Vicki Smith from Shirley.
The 33-year-old who lives in Middleton Road with her partner and sons Jake and Finley added: “My mum thought it was vandals at first but the cemetery have acted just the same as vandals.
“My mum is on the verge of a breakdown. It’s hard enough for her trying to carry on after losing a husband and a son - my brother left behind a fiance and two children aged three and three weeks old when he died.”
Cabinet Member for community services, Councillor Graham Craig said: “Whilst we sympathise with Miss Smith and her family, we do try to keep the woodland a place of natural beauty, where the tree itself acts as a memorial to loved ones.
“We clearly explain to people when they take on a memorial tree that no tributes or ornaments should be put on or around it. Having received a number of complaints about the cemetery looking cluttered we have begun the process of clearing all memorials of additional items.”