KIRKLEES Council planned to unveil a memorial to babies buried in unmarked graves at Edgerton – but chose not to invite the children’s parents to the ceremony.
The memorial was to be unveiled tomorrow at Edgerton Cemetery at 1pm, with only ward councillors and Clr Molly Walton, Kirklees cabinet member for bereavement services, present.
However, after anger from the father who campaigned for the memorial, the council has agreed to postpone the event.
Bruce Jackson, of Beaumont Park, spoke out in the Examiner last November about the need for a memorial at 70 unmarked graves of children who were stillborn or died days just after being born during the 1980s and early 1990s.
Mr Jackson’s son was buried in one of the graves in 1984.
Despite discussing plans with Kirklees Bereavement Services and former cabinet member Clr David Hall, Mr Jackson was not notified of the planned ceremony on Wednesday.
He discovered the plans when the Examiner contacted him for a comment.
He said: “I’m angry and I think it’s dreadful. I am very unhappy about the way this has been handled.
“After all, who is this for? I don’t think it would be appropriate for it to go ahead purely in the presence of ward councillors because I don’t think they have a sufficient stake in this to be representative.”
In a statement, Kirklees Council said: “The council took the view that it did not wish to contact the parents of these children, as it was reluctant to stir up old emotions and memories for those involved in tragic events in the past.
“We did not think it appropriate that Mr Jackson be there by himself.”
The statement said the unveiling has now been postponed to a date yet to be decided and that it would be advertised so that parents with children buried at the cemetery could attend.
In discussions with the council, Mr Jackson had planned for Huddersfield Royal Infirmary chaplaincy and vicar of Huddersfield, the Rev Catherine Ogle, to be present at the unveiling.
He was also promised that he would be kept informed of progress, but has received no information since the change of leadership at Kirklees Council in January.
He said: “It’s a disgrace. I’m just one person among hundreds who has suffered this situation.
“My son’s grave has 11 babies buried there. If the 70 graves in Edgerton Cemetery all have around 10 babies buried there, that’s a lot of bereaved parents.
“My speaking out may have stirred up unpleasant memories for some but it has probably helped more.
“I have been surprised by the number of people who have got in touch since and have thanked me for advice.”
Mr Jackson is also unhappy about the memorial’s location.
It is not on the site of the unmarked graves, but near the Booth Factory Fire memorial at the Blacker Road side of the cemetery.
The memorial problems are the latest in a series of difficulties Mr Jackson has experienced finding his son’s grave.
When his son was stillborn at HRI, Mr Jackson was not told where his son was buried within the ceremony or who conducted the service.
He said: “My wife was very ill and I was not thinking straight and it’s all dealt with before you know it. You are not in a state of mind to ask questions.
“It has taken me 24 years to face up to this and when I’ve tried, I’ve been faced with difficulties at every turn.
“Even when you are given a plot number, the graves can be hard to find.
“This latest problem with the ceremony is just compounding what happened to use over 20 years ago. It is a disgrace.”
The procedure for dealing with infant deaths changed in the 1990s, but it is thought there are hundreds of parents who are struggling like he did to find their child’s resting place.