Widow can’t visit husband’s grave on anniversary as council won’t open the gates

A widow claims she can’t visit her husband’s grave on their wedding anniversary because the council won’t open the gates to the cemetery.

Lilian Parsons, 76, was married to husband Roger for over 50 years before his death in 2019.

Prior to the onset of the pandemic, Mrs Parsons visited her husband’s grave at St Woolos cemetery in Newport, Wales, whenever she wanted, but that ended when Covid restrictions were imposed the year after Roger's death.

She said she had no issues with the restrictions and understood their importance at the time, but almost two years later she is still told she must book an appointment if she wants to visit her husband’s grave by car on weekdays, Wales Online reports.

Newport City Council said the cemetery is now open to walkers on all days of the week, while cars are allowed into the cemetery on weekends.

Mrs Parsons, who also has arthritis and a heart condition, says she cannot walk to her husband’s grave from the entrance to the cemetery without becoming unwell.

She says it means she cannot visit her husband’s grave for what would have been their anniversary today (Monday, January 10).

She said: “I desperately want to go there to spend some time on Monday and I keep phoning them, but I get no answer.

“It’s open on weekends and bank holidays but that is it. They say you can book an appointment, but I’ve never been able to.

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“It’s packed on weekends because it’s the only time so many people can get in because they rely on cars. I paid a lot of money for the plot and we get this.

“There are many others in my position struggling because of these restrictions.”

Mrs Parsons’ son Nigel said the family have been left bemused at the reasons given by the council.

He said: “This isn’t happening anywhere else in Wales, so why is it happening here?

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“Prior to Covid we had no issues at all and the cemetery was always open, so what has changed? It’s a big cemetery and there is plenty of room for everyone.”

Mrs Parsons said the situation has had a significant effect on her mental health.

She added: “It does make me very sad, it’s hit my mental health. I’d very much like to go in on weekdays and have some time in peace there. It feels so wrong.

“Monday will be upsetting, very upsetting – because I know I should be there and there is nothing I can do about it.”

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A spokesperson for Newport City Council said: "Pedestrian access to Newport cemeteries is available throughout the week.

"Vehicle access in St Woolos and Christchurch cemeteries is restricted to Saturdays and Sundays, public holidays and special religious festivals.

"Pedestrian-only access during the week, except for funeral corteges, helps to ensure the safety of all visitors and to allow for the safe operation of machinery used in the preparation of graves.

"It also offers mourners and visitors opportunities for quiet reflection, undisturbed by noise from vehicles.

"If specific access is required due to mobility issues, residents can contact the council during working hours on 01633 656656 or info@newport.gov.uk."

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