Dad reburied after grave mix up in Sunderland cemetery

Brian McDonald alongside his father Walter's grave in Southwick Cemetery.
Brian McDonald alongside his father Walter's grave in Southwick Cemetery.
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A FAMILY have paid £1,200 to have their father’s body exhumed and reburied following a grave mix-up.

Thirty three years after his death, Walter MacDonald has finally been laid to rest next to his beloved wife, Christina.

Walter McDonald.

Walter McDonald.

Last year, the Echo reported how, when they came to bury their mother next to their father, the MacDonald children found out Walter’s grave plot at Southwick Cemetery was already full of other bodies.

The family had bought the plot after their dad had died in 1980 with the intention of burying Christina there.

But the couple’s five children were left stunned when cemetery bosses told them their parents could not lie in rest together because the grave was full.

The family, including son Brian, 45, were told their mother would have to be buried in a different plot and their father could be exhumed and reburied with her.

Brian said: “There was no mention of the other bodies when we buried our dad 33 years ago.”

The family faced months of agony after applying to the Ministry of Justice to have Walter’s remains exhumed.

Now, the reburial has been carried out.

Brian, of Town End Farm, said: “It has cost us about £1,200 and caused a huge amount of upset and turmoil.”

Great-grandmother Christina, who was 80 when she died of cancer, is now finally lying in the new plot with her husband.

But Brian, along with brothers Robert, 60, Walter, 52, and sisters Christine, 48, and Angela, 44, said the family have had a difficult year due to the upset.

He added: “My brother Rob has high blood pressure and I had kidney stones, I actually first noticed them while I was up at the cemetery.

“We are all disappointed that it had to come down to this but I’m just glad it’s all finally over with and we can start putting it all behind us.”

Sunderland City Council say that all cemeteries in the city have spaces that are categorised as ‘unpurchased’ and that graves which fall into this category may have been used for burials previously.

They told the Echo that Walter MacDonald was buried in Southwick Cemetery in February 1980, and an unpurchased grave was chosen for his burial. In October 1980, the unpurchased grave space was purchased by Walter’s son, Robert and he now holds the Exclusive Rights of Burial for the grave space.