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Family who were denied having 'dad and grandad' written on headstone get final verdict

PUBLISHED: 09:53 18 September 2019 | UPDATED: 15:39 18 September 2019

Caroline Walden, of Fakenham, has won her battle to have the words ‘dad and grandad’ written on her father John's headstone. Pictured with her mother Pauline Walden (left) at St Mary's Church, Syderstone. Picture: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOP

Caroline Walden, of Fakenham, has won her battle to have the words 'dad and grandad' written on her father John's headstone. Pictured with her mother Pauline Walden (left) at St Mary's Church, Syderstone. Picture: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOP

Archant

A family from north Norfolk can finally "move on and grieve" after winning a long-running battle to have the words 'dad and grandad' written on their loved one's grave.

Caroline Walden, of Fakenham, has won her battle to have the words ‘dad and grandad’ written on her father John's headstone at St Mary's Church, Syderstone. Picture: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOPCaroline Walden, of Fakenham, has won her battle to have the words ‘dad and grandad’ written on her father John's headstone at St Mary's Church, Syderstone. Picture: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOP

When Caroline Walden lost her father John to a heart attack back in December 2017, the last thing on her mind was worrying about the wording on his headstone.

But she was left heartbroken after being told that church policy at St Mary's in Syderstone, near Fakenham, meant her wishes for the inscription were rejected .

Now, after more than a year and a half, the headstone has finally been erected to read the names the family had always called him.

The mother-of-two of Waterfield Avenue, in Fakenham, said: "I personally don't feel I've had time to move on and grieve because I've had to fight for this for so long.

ohn Walden. Picture: WALDEN FAMILYohn Walden. Picture: WALDEN FAMILY

"Now we have a place, that as a family, we can come to once a fortnight to visit him and change the flowers."

Mr Walden, a farmer from Tattersett, suffered with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease prior to his heart attack. He spent his last Christmas with family before being admitted to hospital where he later died aged 65 on January 28, 2018.

After his funeral, the family were told that church policy meant inscriptions must be "simple, dignified and reverent" and a letter from the Reverend Clive Wylie suggested the family used "father and grandfather" instead.

But Miss Walden, 46, argued that using the words 'dad and grandad' could not be any more dignified as "they were the names he was known by."

Caroline Walden, of Fakenham, has won her battle to have the words ‘dad and grandad’ written on her father John's headstone at St Mary's Church, Syderstone. Picture: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOPCaroline Walden, of Fakenham, has won her battle to have the words ‘dad and grandad’ written on her father John's headstone at St Mary's Church, Syderstone. Picture: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOP

READ MORE: Is this a fitting tribute? Monkey headstone approved by council.

The family took their concerns to the Diocese of Norwich, which eventually reversed the decision.

Syderstone churc. Photo: Tim BaldwinSyderstone churc. Photo: Tim Baldwin

Archdeacon of Lynn, the Venerable Ian Bentley, said: "When a family member dies we know it is an extremely difficult time. We understand and are sorry for any upset that the family has felt and expressed during this time.

"All churches must follow the Churchyard Regulations set by the Chancellor for the Diocese. Vicars must often make very difficult decisions which balance the wishes of individuals and families but also the church's role as custodians of memorials which last for many, many generations.

"If a family is unhappy with a church's decision they are encouraged to speak with the local vicar of the church. If the family are still unhappy they can make an application for an independent decision to be made by the Chancellor for the Diocese."

Syderstone village and st Marys church
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2019Syderstone village and st Marys church Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019

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St Mary's Church, Syderstone. Picture: Dan BennettSt Mary's Church, Syderstone. Picture: Dan Bennett

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