Public outcry after Sheffield crematorium asks relatives to remove tributes from dead loved ones' memorials

The sign at the crematorium.
The sign at the crematorium.

A Sheffield crematorium's policy to ask relatives to remove tributes from dead loved ones' memorials has sparked a public outcry.

A notice appeared at Grenoside Crematorium from new site operators Dignity warning visitors that sentimental ornaments and other items must be removed due to 'health and safety reasons'.

Grenoside Crematorium.

Grenoside Crematorium.

The sign states that visitors have until May 8 to remove them after which time staff will take them away. Trinkets will be kept for three months before being 'disposed' of.

The move has sparked outrage among residents who have lasting memorials dedicated to lost loved ones and more than 80 people took to Facebook to vent their anger.

Emma Prewett said: "I literally can not find the words to describe how angry I am about this. My son has been in the Peter Pan garden for 11 years and not once have I been asked to remove any of his things by the Co-op (previous site operators).

"I have been up today and left a note requesting none of his things be removed otherwise I will scream and shout to anyone that will listen."

Karla Mason added: "This is completely disgusting. Some people find comfort in taking ornaments, trinkets etc to loved ones graves."

Steven Roebuck posted: "We have had a plague up there for 12 years and have never been told to remove the little poems or personal items that are sat next to it. So I don't know how they say it was the previous owners policy."

Sarah Baines said: "If they are causing some kind of hazard then yes health and safety, but they aren't so please check your definition what you have down as health and safety and then apologise."

Dignity said the rules are not new and have been inherited from the previous site operators Co-op Funeralcare.

A spokesman said: "We have been dismayed at the public reaction. We are a caring company and are proud to report that 99:3 per cent of customers who responded to our survey reported that they were entirely satisfied with our services and would recommend us to others.

"Yesterday (Saturday, April 22) we had eight families visit our site office thanking us for arranging to take the proposed steps to tidy the area. We had one gentleman who visited to express his annoyance that his unauthorised item was to be removed.

"The issue of unauthorised tributes would have been clearly explained to families by the Co-op who were the previous owners of the site."

He added it was not feasible to write letters to each individual families as people change addresses without informing the crematorium.

The spokesman went on to say: "The items taken away are unfortunately unauthorised. They can cause significant maintenance and health and safety issues. Also in communal areas excessive unauthorised tributes/memorials can encroach on other people’s memorials who do follow the regulations set by the crematorium.

"Whilst I appreciate it’s upsetting for some families, we receive far more complaints about excessive tributes than we have had from removing them. We stress that no authorised items will be touched and all items that we have to remove will be securely stored for collection.

"There are an awful lot of glass and ceramic items left on memorials. These can, and have, fallen over and broken on the paths. We have a duty of care to keep all visitors safe when they are in our grounds.

"There are also wind chimes and balloons tied to trees and roses – this can cause the planting to die and, there are unauthorised tributes that some people have stapled to trees. As I’m sure anyone can appreciate, this is not good for the ornamental."