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Mum is devastated after council removes her son’s headstone

A grieving mother has described feeling “shattered” after her local council took away her son’s headstone without letting her know.

Max Corbett-Gardener was only 4 years old when he died following health complications caused by his severe epilepsy. His mum, 42-year-old Jo Corbett-Weeks, took three years to choose a headstone for him, a star-shaped stone featuring a teddy bear, and had it erected on Max’s grave on May 31 which would have been his seventh birthday.

However it only remained in place for three days before it was removed from Great Malvern Cemetery by council chiefs.

“It would have been Max’s seventh birthday on the Sunday, and this was like a birthday present to him from me,” Ms. Corbett-Weeks told the BBC. “I chose a star-shaped stone because I wanted something suitable for Max — something personal. This stone is just so perfect for my poor little chap.”

Malvern Town Council said that a complaint was made about Max’s headstone because its star shape was “not in keeping” with the others in the cemetery. But the council didn’t let Ms. Corbett-Weeks know it was going to be removed and she only found out from the stonemason who had been instructed to take it away.

More: Child is taken from his parents because they “smoke too much”

Ms. Corbett-Weeks, who is a single mother of a 5-year-old and a 16-year-old, said she felt “upset, distressed and angry.”

“We have been through so much as a family,” she went on. “I could understand if the grave was uncared for or unsightly, but it isn’t.”

“We have a conformity of shapes in our lawn cemetery. We were contacted by people who objected to the shape,” a Malvern Town Council spokesman told the BBC. “The longer it stayed up, the harder the process would have been. It was a very difficult decision to remove it but one we had to make straight away.”

“It wasn’t necessarily an objection to the shape but why we appeared to be applying one rule to one family and other rules to another,” he added. “The stonemason in this situation did not have permission to put the stone up — and the stone is not in keeping with the graves in that area. By not following the correct process he has caused considerable distress to both families.”

The council also said that if the star-shaped headstone had been placed in the children’s area of the cemetery, rather than the adult area, it would have been allowed to stay.

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