Heartbroken mother told to remove memorial from baby son’s grave

Five-month-old Callum died in his sleep from pneumonia in April 2010

Izzy Hawksworth
Sunday 03 September 2023 18:19 BST

A grieving mother has been told she has to remove a cartoon-themed memorial from her baby son’s grave or face having it pulled down because it isn’t made of stone.

Heartbroken Leanne Thompson’s five-month-old son Callum died in his sleep from pneumonia in April 2010.

Last October, she spent £600 on a headstone for his grave, which is themed on kids TV show In the Night Garden and features his favourite character, Iggle Piggle.

But she has now received a letter from North East Lincolnshire Council stating the memorial must be removed.

The authority said the memorial doesn’t comply with British standards because it is made from acrylic resin which could deteriorate.

Leanne Thompson at baby Callum’s grave
Leanne Thompson at baby Callum’s grave (Leanne Thompson / SWNS)

Leanne has been told she has until 30 September to remove Callum’s headstone or that the council will remove it themselves.

She said: “Out of all of the graves in that yard, they’ve picked out a baby’s grave. It does stand out because it’s bright, because that’s what I wanted for him.

“It’s absolutely heartbreaking. People have been saying that it’s nice but it is a bit too much, but that’s just because it’s colourful.

“It’s minimalistic – it’s only got a few things on it and that’s it. It’s not over the top with ornaments or anything.”

Leanne said of her boy: “He was very chunky and I always called him my chunky, blue-eyed boy.

Leanne Thompson with Callum
Leanne Thompson with Callum (Leanne Thompson / SWNS)

“He used to have a swinging chair and would sit in front of the telly and he would start kicking his little legs and arms about when he would see Iggle Piggle.

“He would even fall asleep on his playmat watching Iggle Piggle.

“Even my dad used to say that it was the end of an era when Callum passed away because it was the end of an era for Iggle Piggle.”

Leanne, of Grimsby, said she contacted the council before ordering the memorial and was told it was fine as long as she installed it herself, which she did. But now she says she has been told to remove it because it’s made of acrylic.

The mother-of-four said: “I just can’t see the problem.

“There’s been some wooden crosses that have been there for years and they have become brittle and snap and become sharp.

“They even put fences in the cemetery and there’s bits and nails hanging off.

“You can buy grave pots and vases that are plastic. You can even buy pots for flowers from funeral homes and they are made out of pot.

“All you have to do is pick it up and it will smash. Nothing lasts forever.”

Callum died in his sleep from pneumonia in April 2010
Callum died in his sleep from pneumonia in April 2010 (Leanne Thompson / SWNS)

Leanne said she “wouldn’t have gone ahead” if she knew she would have this problem.

She said: “I’ve spoken to the council and if they didn’t say I could have the memorial, then I would have gone down a different route.

“I wouldn’t have gone ahead knowing I was going to have this problem.

“I’ll have to remove it myself because if not, then the council will take it.

“I won’t be able to get a different grave at first so it will be unmarked.”

A spokesperson for the council said they have invited Leanne and her family to discuss the matter further.

They said: “Our staff are always willing to help families with any enquiries about cemetery regulations and how they apply to a loved one’s grave.

“The regulations have been in place for many years and it’s important that we treat all grave owners equally when dealing with such sensitive matters.

“All memorials must be installed by a registered monumental mason and comply with British Standards.

“This memorial is made of plastic, which can quickly deteriorate and become brittle.

“In the past, we’ve found these memorials are easily damaged and when they break, they are very sharp.

“An application needs to be submitted and permission given in writing before a memorial can be installed. They also need to be insured.

“It can be upsetting when we ask someone to change a loved one’s grave and we have invited the family to speak with us to discuss this sensitive matter further.”

Leanne has created a petition to stop the council from removing the memorial.

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