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Great-grandmother told to pay out after family plot smashed

A great-grandmother was reduced to tears after finding part of her parents’ and brother’s grave in pieces.

Kate Southion found the granite headstone on which her relatives’ names are inscribed had been knocked over and part of the kerbstone surrounding the grave had been broken when she visited Camberwell New Cemetery with her granddaughter.

The 72-year-old, from Bermondsey, said she was “devastated” when she made the discovery and that she felt the cemetery should take more responsibility.

“I went down there and something had run over the grave and smashed all the front of it and knocked it sideways,” she said.

“I was just absolutely devastated; my granddaughter and I sat there crying.

“Whatever has hit it isn’t a car – the kerbstone would have gone under a car.

“There’s a big black granite stone but my granddaughter and I couldn’t lift it, it was so heavy.

“I don’t think it’s been vandalised.”

Mrs Southion’s mother, who died 25 years ago, and father, who died fifteen years ago, are both buried at the family plot, while her younger brother, who died of a brain haemorrhage at the of 26, had his ashes scattered there in 1984.

The damaged grave at Camberwell New Cemetery

“I lost my other brother last March on my birthday and my husband of 52 years died in September, so everything has sort of hit me at once,” she said.

Mrs Southion said she was told by a cemetery worker that it was not the cemetery’s responsibility to repair the damage and that she should have had the grave insured.

“They reckon there’s nothing they can do about it,” she said.

“They said we should have had it insured but shouldn’t we be made aware of that when we buy the plot and be advised to take out insurance? Someone needs to tell you what to do.

“I can’t leave it like that.”

“It’s going to cost well in the hundreds to fix – but there’s no way I want to go to my maker knowing it’s not been done.”

Southwark Council leader Peter John said: “I am really sorry to hear that this grave has been damaged by someone or something and for the distress this has caused Kate and her family.

“The cemetery is a public space that is open to cars and other vehicles and that is why we advise families to ensure memorials are covered by insurance – unfortunately we cannot accept responsibility for damage that is caused by third parties.

“But I will ask officers to help find the most cost-effective way of repairing this memorial.”


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