Sidmouth woman’s plea over burial plot for terminally ill husband

A view of Sidmouth Cemetery with Salcombe Hill behind. Ref shs 05-16SH 3715. Picture: Simon Horn

A view of Sidmouth Cemetery with Salcombe Hill behind. Ref shs 05-16SH 3715. Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

A wife, whose husband has been given weeks to live, has appealed for help in finding a piece of land at Sidmouth cemetery so his dying wish can be granted.

The terminally ill man wants to be buried within view of his family’s home, but no plots in the specific area are available.

His wife, who has asked not be named, hopes someone in the town, with rights to such a plot, may be able to come to the couple’s aid. She said time is of the essence after her 59-year-old husband was told he had eight weeks to live in January after he was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

She is looking for a plot located, if you are looking up from Temple Street, in an area to the right of the cemetery’s chapel, which runs through to the Winslade Road end of the grounds.

The wife has approached the cemetery’s owner, East Devon District Council (EDDC), but all of the plots have been purchased.

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“I’m willing to pay for a plot. I’m willing to pay an administration fee for doing it. I do not want something for nothing. It’s not what it would mean to me, it would be to give my husband peace of mind and reassurance that he can be buried where he wants to be buried,” said the mother-of-three.

“He’s been so amazing. He’s been so strong. I’m crying and he’s hugging me and it’s not me that’s dying. It’s just so difficult because he looks so fit and well.”

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The couple, who have been married for 32 years, were told the husband had a grade four glioblastoma multiforme (GMB) on the left side of his brain in January 2015. He was admitted to hospital after it appeared that he had suffered a stroke at home.

Following his diagnosis, he underwent an ‘awake craniotomy’ operation at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, and courses of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

The wife said: “The tumour has gone further into the brain and it is travelling from the left to right side of his brain. We were told it was going to be two months. We were driving home from Exeter when I decided to bite the bullet and we had the conversation. I asked ‘What do you want? Cremation or burial?’.

“He said, ‘I would like to buried in a plot that you can see from the house’.

“He is an amazing person. How many people could have that conversation? Now I know what he wants. It is his wish to be buried where I can see him.”

The wife has been working with Northcott Funeral Directors and EDDC to secure her husband’s wish.

She praised the compassion and dedication of both for their help.

EDDC has been trying to trace owners with burial rights in the specific area on behalf of the couple.

A spokeswoman said that, if the holder wanted to sell back the grave plot, then the council could carry out a transfer of rights.

She added: “One of our officers has had a site meeting at the cemetery with the resident and her undertaker to discuss her requirements for a burial plot in a specific part of Sidmouth Cemetery.

“Unfortunately, this won’t be easy as she has her heart set on a part of the cemetery which has already been used-up. There are still some unused graves in that area, but the exclusive rights of burial have already been purchased. Our officer has already been trying to trace holders of unused spaces, but with no luck so far. We are continuing to try and find a solution on behalf of this resident.”

If you can help, contact the Herald on 01392 888511.

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