Vandals attack children’s graves

Melanie Scott and her Mum Phyllis at baby Toni's grave. Picture by Keith Robertson.
Melanie Scott and her Mum Phyllis at baby Toni's grave. Picture by Keith Robertson.

Vile vandals have rampaged through a Morpeth churchyard, wrecking children’s graves.

Heartbroken Melanie Scott discovered the callous attack at St Mary’s Churchyard on Friday when she went to visit her daughter’s grave on her eighth anniversary.

I wanted to raise awareness so if parents are visiting their children’s graves they can keep an eye out. I was also hoping that it would get back to the vandals and let them see the effect they had had.

Melanie Scott

Baby Toni was just over five weeks old when she died after being diagnosed with rare genetic disorder Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome, which affected her lungs and breathing.

Miss Scott was last at the grave on what would have been Toni’s eighth birthday, and when she returned she knew immediately that something was wrong.

“It was heartbreaking,” she said.

“Five weeks before, I had been up to the grave for Toni’s eighth birthday and I went up again with my mam on Friday. She had bought a posy.

“As soon as I walked up, I knew something wasn’t right. At first I thought the wind had blown something over, but then I saw that everything had been turned over, things that physically couldn’t have been blown over by the wind. Then I noticed that some of Toni’s flowers and ornaments had been stolen, and her windmill was gone.

“I looked around and noticed that other children’s graves had been messed up as well. I cleaned my daughter’s up and took my mam home, but it was on my mind so I went back to clear the other graves up as well. I just thought if any other mums and dads saw it they would have been devastated.”

It is not the first time that Toni’s grave has been desecrated. Just weeks after her funeral fresh flowers were stolen and replaced with dead ones, but there has not been another attack until last week.

Miss Scott said: “Children’s death is such a taboo subject that children aren’t really aware of it and don’t know how people feel. They are oblivious because nobody talks about it.

“It is very upsetting that this has happened to Toni’s grave, but I can understand to a certain extent because these vandals probably don’t know the consequences of their actions.

“I would just ask them to be more respectful. I haven’t got a problem with kids going up there if it keeps them out of trouble, but don’t go vandalising children’s graves.”

She added: “My son, who is four years old, knows about his big sister in heaven and he likes to go to the grave with me with flowers. For Toni’s birthday he wanted to take a balloon for her.

“Thankfully, he wasn’t with me on Friday. If he had seen that damage he would have been heartbroken.”

Miss Scott posted news of the vandalism on the Morpeth Matters Facebook page, and was immediately contacted by Cynthia Fair, of F.H. Hardy florist, who presented her with a posy to replace the stolen flowers.

“I put it on Facebook because I wanted to raise awareness so if parents are visiting their children’s graves they can keep an eye out. I was also hoping that it would get back to the vandals and let them see the effect they had had,” she said.

“I’ve lived in Morpeth all my life and Cynthia did my daughter’s and brother’s funeral flowers. She contacted me to go to the shop and when I went down she had some flowers for me.

“It was just Cynthia all over, she is such a wonderful lady. It did lift my spirits. It was nice to know that there are people in the community who do these things.”

Ms Fair said: “I just thought what an awful thing to happen. I have known Melanie for a long time and I felt really sorry for her.

“She likes flowers that are quite girly so I put in some roses and carnations and things, and a sparkly butterfly. It was just something from me and the business.

“I don’t look for any attention, anybody would do the same.”