CroydonNews

Elderly man finally able to visit fathers grave after kind gesture from cemetery staff

By Tara O’Connor, local democracy reporter

A 91-year-old man was finally able to visit his father’s grave after staff mowed a small pathway at the overgrown Croydon Cemetery.

The kind gesture came just two weeks after Keith McDowall was unable to find the grave amid the overgrown grass. But the unkempt cemetery remains an issue for others visiting the graves of loved ones.

Before making the trip last Thursday (July 1) from Islington to Croydon, Mr Mcdowall called the office at what is known as Mitcham Road Cemetery in Thornton Heath.

Keith McDowall was able to visit his father’s grave in Croydon Cemetery thanks to staff cutting him a path through overgrown grass. Credit: Keith McDowall.

He said: “Gardening staff located my father’s grave for me in the overgrown site and mowed a small pathway so that I could make what could be my farewell visit.

“I had failed completely to find the gravestone a week earlier even though I knew the registered number and its approximate position, such is the way the whole cemetery has been allowed to deteriorate.”

Although Mr McDowall thought it was a “marvellous” thing for staff to do for him, he feels sorry for others with loved ones buried at the cemetery who will be greeted by overgrown grass.

He added: “Clearly not everyone seeking to find a gravestone can be given the special treatment I received, so I do urge the pain and concern it represents to relatives or descendants to be recognised by the financial heads of Croydon Council.”

His father, William, died in 1941 aged 44. He was a production manager at Croydon Engineering Co, which produced plane parts for the RAF.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service first wrote about the overgrown grass at the cemetery on June 21.

At the time, councillor Muhammad Ali, cabinet member for sustainable Croydon, said that the issue would be resovled in a fortnight with extra resources being allocated to cutting grass at the borough’s cemeteries.

This promise was reiterated by the council’s Twitter page on June 29.

The Tweet said: “We’re allocating some extra resources to grass cutting in our cemeteries – this should be done within the next two weeks, weather permitting.”

Croydon Council and Cllr Ali were contacted for an update.

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