A NEW bereavement services manager has been appointed to run Worcester Crematorium and Cemetery in Astwood Road and the St John’s Cemetery following numerous concerns over graveyard thefts, untidiness and even an attempted robbery.

Iain Askew-Calvert brings several years’ experience as a funeral director, having started his working life in the army.

Mr Askew-Calvert will have direct responsibility for the team carrying out grounds maintenance in both cemeteries.

He said: “I am looking forward to the new challenges that my appointment will bring. As a team, bereavement services are striving to achieve the highest possible standards for grieving families and to continue to deliver a respectful and dignified service for the deceased.”

Around 2,000 funerals are held at Worcester Crematorium each year – an average of between seven and eight a day.

The City Council has recently invested in a new Garden of Solace, helping to create a quiet, reflective atmosphere beside the crematorium chapel.

In June, grieving son Barrie Redding who was visiting his parents’ graves slammed the condition of Astwood Road Cemetery as a "disgrace".

In April, a woman in her 50s tending to a grave in Astwood Road Cemetery was attacked as a robber tried to snatch her handbag.

Last October, numerous mementos, including a Yorkshire terrier statue, were stolen from father Neville Cook's grave by thief Alice Wyatt.

In April, a replacement statue was laid on the grave, after being set in concrete as a precaution.