A FAMILY from the city has donated a new excavator to Worcester Muslim Cemetery.

The Khawaja family - who came to the UK in the early 1960s and moved to Worcester in the 1980s – donated the digger to be used in the burial area off John Comyn Drive in Worcester.

Former city mayor, Councillor Allah Ditta, who received the digger, said: “I want to publicly thank the Khawaja family for this most generous donation. They have also agreed to help with the maintenance.

“I know that they have been supporting and fundraising within their family since 2004 and that they will go on to support the cemetery in the future.

“The cemetery survives solely on the money raised locally and receives no government support, and so donations like this and others which have been made by other Muslim families are what enables us to keep going.

“I know it’s a hard time for all of us, but please, everyone, keep giving to charities.”

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The 2.7 ton excavator will make a difference to the operation of the cemetery which has until now been using a much older, smaller machine after the previous one was stolen.

Part of the cemetery was finally granted planning permission for use as a burial site at a meeting in November last year, following a request from Cllr Ditta.

The site had been used for burials since 2005 despite not having formal permission.

At the time, Councillor Pat Agar said the cemetery was important for the city’s Muslim community and needed to be approved.

A decision over the retrospective plan had been delayed for almost a year due to a number of “major” concerns raised by the Environment Agency, which had said the land was unsuitable for human burials.

At the start of last year, the Environment Agency said it was concerned about possible water pollution and had called for alternative locations to be found.

The Environment Agency said the site was unsuitable for human burials and did not meet its standards for groundwater – and raised concerns on at least three occasions dating back to 2008.