RELATIVES have been left distressed after artificial flowers were removed from graves of their loved ones in Droitwich.

Silk flowers on three graves at St Mary's Churchyard, off Worcester Road, have been removed in recent weeks without notice.

Sue Hughes, 57, from Droitwich, was upset when silk flowers were removed from the graves of her two brothers, Kieran and Jamie Power, at the churchyard.

Regulations that came into force in 2007 state that artificial flowers are not allowed on graves across Droitwich parish, but Mrs Hughes says this is the first time she has had flowers removed.

“I’ve never had any problems before. I have always put silk flowers on both of my brothers' graves," she said.

"I can understand if the grave looks a mess but I try my best to keep it tidy.

"With how our weather is, it would be silly to keep putting real flowers on there."

Mrs Hughes says she cannot visit the graves as much as she likes, but gets there to pay her respects at least four-times-a-year.

She says she was given no warning that the flowers were removed.

"I think about them [my brothers] every day but I can't always get to their graves," she said.

"The grave might belong to the church but the bones in that grave belong to me.

"I’ve seen other graves with silk flowers on them so why aren’t they taking them off there?"

Violet Barnes, 76, also from Droitwich, was also extremely upset when silk flowers were twice removed from her husband and daughter’s grave.

Mrs Barnes places silk flowers because she has a bad back and finds it difficult changing real flowers.

"I can understand them taking the flowers off if they looked old but I’d only just put them on," she said.

"With the weather we have, they’d be dead within a day.

"I didn’t get a letter from the church and nobody put a note on the grave saying they were going to be removed.

"Nobody is telling me where the flowers are going. It’s theft really."

Rev Laura Handy, part of the Droitwich parish team, said: “St Mary’s has been undergoing maintenance for many years and it is still very much a work in progress.

"There are various people in charge of maintenance of the churchyards across the parish and we have had specific conversations already with the people who maintain the graveyards.

"It is probably someone who has gone and read the rules online and automatically took the flowers off the grave because it says they aren’t allowed."

She continued: "I don't want to give a definitive yes or no [if silk flowers are allowed], it is the kind of thing that is impossible to be put into one sentence.

"With this, it is people rather than things.

"It’s always a delicate balance between keeping to the rules and talking with families to try and figure something out."

"We try to, not bend the rules, but try and be as compassionate as possible.

"We really want to work with people and we don’t want to upset them. If people can come to us directly then we can have that conversation and find that balance.

"Offence is never intended, if people have concerns specific to us then please come to us directly."