A grieving couple have considered exhuming the body of their two-year-old son in a dispute over ornaments on his grave.
Adrian and Kelly Rycroft, of Marsh, lost 27-month-old Jensen to a heart condition in February last year.
Jensen was buried in the Rose Hill Burial Ground in Birkby, a ‘natural’, environmentally friendly cemetery which has graves marked only with simple slate plaques laid flat into the turf.
The couple put small items on the otherwise unmarked grave, including a wooden teddy bear and wooden pink heart, and were left angry that the memorials were removed and dumped in a storage bin.
Adrian, 33, and Kelly, 30, who have two other sons, are locked in a legal battle over Jensen’s death and the row over the grave has caused them more distress.
Kelly said: “This is the last thing we need after everything we have been through.
“We have thought seriously about removing Jensen from the burial ground but that would be a last resort and my stomach turns just thinking about it.
“He has been laid to rest and is at peace now but we just want to leave some small items on his grave without having to fish them out of a bin.”
Kelly said burial ground workers removed items from all graves before a tractor mowed the grass, leaving them all in a bin behind a gate. Relatives then had to retrieve them later.
“It’s often full of water and I don’t want to go rooting around among other people’s possessions. It doesn’t seem right,” she said.
Jensen was born with a hole in the heart and needed surgery at a week old. He had been due another major operation and surgery had been cancelled four times, the family says.
His operation at Leeds General Infirmary had been set for February 21 but he collapsed and died nine days before. He was buried the day the operation should have taken place.
Jensen’s death had left the family – including Jamie, 14, and Cain, seven – devastated. Cain, who was close to his younger brother, has needed counselling.
Cain also loves making little gifts for Jensen and Kelly said: “We have to leave them on the grave as he wouldn’t understand why we aren’t supposed to do that.”
The couple paid about £500 for the burial plot and say they felt under pressure to make a decision.
“I have never arranged a funeral before and no one expects to have to bury their child,” said Kelly. “We felt under pressure to get it sorted.
“We were told we could leave items on the grave as long as they were natural and the teddy bear is made of wood, which is a natural material.”
The couple struggled to find the £2,500 funeral costs and a charity is planning a fundraiser to help pay for a plaque.
Mrs Susan Brook, a director of the company which runs the burial ground, said it was a strict policy that trinkets were not allowed on graves.
She said people chose Rose Hill, now in its 11th year, for that very reason and no exceptions could be made.
“We have every sympathy for Jensen’s parents but we have tried to explain as nicely as possible that these things are not allowed,” she said.
“We can’t please everybody but the majority of people say how wonderful the burial ground is.”
Mrs Brook said exhumation was the family’s “prerogative” and added: “Maybe the answer for them is to move Jensen to somewhere where it doesn’t matter.”