Widow makes a plea for a plot to bury her husband at St George’s Church in Littleport

Iris Butcher

Iris Butcher - Credit: Archant

A former church organist is appealing for help to fulfil her husband’s dying wish to be buried in the town where the couple lived most of their lives.

It is the second time in three months a family has asked for help after being refused permission to bury their loved one at George’s Church in Littleport because of limited space.

Iris Butcher, 72, said: “I played the organ in both churches in Littleport for over 50 years. I lived there all my life and we lived there together for most of our married lives.

“It was his dying wish to be buried in Littleport.

“We moved to Downham Market eight years ago as it was easier to get out and about for shopping being less rural.

“Somebody kindly offered an unwanted plot for another family recently and I’m hoping somebody might do the same for our family.

“If nobody can help then at least I tried,” she said.

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Kenneth Butcher, 74, died unexpectedly after suffering complications following a triple bypass operation last month.

He came home and appeared to be making a good recovery but after suffering problems was admitted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn.

Mrs Butcher travelled to Lynn last Friday (11) to bring him home but in the meantime he suffered a cardiac arrest and died.

In September, Littleport Town councillors voted 9-2 to keep a policy that allows only parishioners to be buried locally.

It is a situation faced by many churches across the country - there is simply not enough space, said parish clerk Linda Clarke Jones.

“I understand it is a very difficult time for families but it is not a rule that only we have in Littleport, this is the same for many towns and villages across the country.

“We can have the service here and can accept ashes, but we just do not have the space for burials,” she said.

Faced with a wait of up to four years for a new burial ground, the parish council was committed to protecting burial space for parishioners, she said.

A policy, first considered in 2005, was put in place to tackle the expected shortage of burial plots.

Parishioners who have moved to a home or hospital, outside of the parish, to receive care in their final years, are permitted burial.

Funeral directors were made aware of the policy in 2005.

Council chairman Clive Webber tol din September how land for a new cemetery has only been secured recently after a 10 year exhaustive search, hampered by the suitability and legalities regarding burial land and availability.

The new cemetery is still three to four years away from being in use, he said.

The existing cemetery has 120 available plots and in the past five years, an average of 30 plots per year have been required.

“Without due care and forward planning we could run out of available plots for residents before the new cemetery is ready for use and be in the position of locating burial space outside the parish,” he said.

“This policy will be reviewed again once the new cemetery is available.”

In September a woman was able to bury her mother, who did not meet the local criteria, at St George’s Church when an anonymous member of the public gave up a plot they had reserved.