Families’ fury as bodies in wrong graves a year on

Marc Ramage, Margaret McAleese and Tracy Cross at the graves. Picture: Lesley Martin
Marc Ramage, Margaret McAleese and Tracy Cross at the graves. Picture: Lesley Martin
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TWO families left distraught when cemetery bosses buried a man in the wrong plot are still waiting for the bodies to be exhumed – more than a year later.

Marc Ramage, 44, bought the deeds to a family plot at the dying wish of his beloved mother, Anne, 58, five years ago, so he and sister Sharon would eventually lie either side of her.

But he was horrified to find bungling grave diggers had buried stranger Hugh McAleese in the place intended for his sister.

Officials from West Lothian Council offered to exhume Mr Ramage’s mother and find another suitable three-person plot elsewhere at Adambrae Cemetery, Livingston, but a year later and her devastated family is still waiting.

Mr Ramage said the lengthy delays were adding further misery to what had already been an upsetting ordeal.

He said: “It was supposed to have been sorted within six to eight weeks and we are still waiting. It hasn’t been touched, we just feel like we’ve been pushed to the side.

“The amount of time this is taking has just added to the stress. I buried my mother five years ago and now I’m having to do it again which is not something I’d wish on anybody.

“Neither family are at fault here, it’s the council. I feel for the other family as well as they must be going through exactly the same as us.”

The grim mishap came to light when sisters Tracy Cross and Margaret McAleese bought the next-door-but-one space for their father, Hugh, who died in February last year.

His funeral went without a hitch and they were only alerted to the fact he was buried in the wrong spot months later, when the headstone was erected in a neighbouring plot.

They argued with officials that something was amiss because the grass was undisturbed in front of his headstone.

After complaining, the headstone was moved to Mr McAleese’s resting place – in the wrong plot.

Speaking at the time, Ms Cross, of Addiewell, said the mistake should never have happened as the owner of each plot was documented.

Now dad-of-three Mr Ramage wants legal proceedings to come to an end so council bosses can move his mum to the agreed new grave site. He admits he dreads the day it goes ahead – and having to explain what happened to his children.

“I’m going to have to stand there and witness it because I don’t trust that they’ll get it right after this cock-up.

“I never expected that five years later my poor mother was going to have to be exhumed and reburied. I thought we’d put her to rest.”

West Lothian Council said: “The timescales are dictated by the families who own the lairs and the need to follow due legal process. We have respected both families’ need to make a decision on how they wish to proceed in their own time.