A WIDOW was left heartbroken when a memorial to her husband was moved without her knowledge.
June Bowers lost her husband Frank to cancer in 2004 and shortly afterwards had a vase placed at Bradwell Crematorium in his memory.
For more than five years, Mrs Bowers and her family have visited and tended the site, which they assumed was theirs to use.
But staff have now removed the vase, as they say it was an unauthorised memorial.
Mrs Bowers says she was shocked when she discovered that the vase was missing.
The 72-year-old, from Emberton Street, Wolstanton, said: "I'd gone to visit Frank's memorial with my partner, and as we were walking along he started looking around and said he thought we'd gone the wrong way. We were in the right place but the staff had taken the vase away.
"When we found out what had happened I was so upset. If Frank had been buried in a casket, I would have dug him up there and then."
The vase had been placed at the crematorium by funeral directors on behalf of Mrs Bowers, and she believed they had made the necessary arrangements.
Eighteen months ago, she received a letter informing her that unauthorised memorials were being removed, but she understood that she would be informed before any action was taken.
Mrs Bowers added: "I was expecting them to contact us so we could come and remove the vase ourselves. But they just moved it themselves without telling me. That's what I find so upsetting.
"For five-and-a-half years we've been tending that site, making it neat and tidy, but now they're saying we can't use it unless we make a donation for a tree or a bench. But I just can't afford that.
"If there was a problem with the vase, why have they let us keep it there for more than five years?
"I'm just glad I didn't wait until the sixth anniversary of Frank's death next month to visit his memorial. I think the shock of finding out then would have killed me."
Mrs Bowers' partner, John Munden, says the actions of the crematorium staff had caused them a great deal of pain.
Mr Munden, aged 77, added: "If I'd let June go and complain at the office herself, there would have been trouble – she was that upset. She was just sitting on the bench, crying her eyes out."
Mrs Bowers, who has taken the vase back, now plans to create a permanent memorial to her husband in her own garden.
Bradwell Crematorium, which is run by Newcastle Borough Council, has won a number of national and regional awards in recent years.
A council spokesman said: "Residents can lease an area in the crematorium's garden of remembrance so they can remember loved ones – a vase or memorial can be placed in each area. Mrs Bowers placed a vase in memory of her husband in an area without leasing it first.
"Crematorium staff have spoken with her and explained the situation. If Mrs Bowers would like to contact us again we would be happy to arrange a lease with her.
"We did place notices around the crematorium grounds six months ago, stating that unauthorised memorials would be collected."
Source: This is Staffordshire