It’s a parent’s worst nightmare to lose their child. Max Corbett-Gardener, from Malvern, Worcestershire, England, was just four years old when he passed away in 2013 due to complications with his epilepsy. According to reports, Max’s mother, Jo Corbett-Weeks, spent some time saving close to $4,580 in order to give her little boy a special headstone in the cemetery: something that would reflect the kind of kid he was. She chose a star-shaped headstone that is being hugged by a teddy bear with an inscription.
Max’s mom told the BBC, “I chose a star-shaped stone because I wanted something suitable for Max—something personal. This stone is just so perfect for my poor little chap.” The headstone took about three years to get paid for and to be officially placed on the grave site. Finally, on his 7th birthday, it happened. Three days later, however, it was removed from the cemetery by the Malvern Town Council.
On top of this, it was removed without the family’s consent. According to the Council, a complaint was made about the headstone not complying with cemetery rules. The mother told the BBC, “I was totally unaware this was going on. The council did not contact me and it was the stonemason who told me he’d been ordered to remove it.”
According to the Daily Mail, Max’s mom added: “The headstone meant a lot to me and the family but now we are fighting to have it put back. It’s a horrible situation. We just want to have somewhere to grieve.” But the council is defending the action, saying that if Jo Corbett-Weeks had submitted the application during a specific time frame, they would have told her upfront that she couldn’t use that specific headstone.
Daily Mail notes that according to the council, Max was buried in the adult area of the cemetery. The family chose that specific area because they wanted him to be closer to the family. The council notes that had the child been buried in the children’s area, the headstone star with the teddy bear would have been totally acceptable.
The Malvern Town Council spokesperson had a lot to say on this situation, according to the BBC. They noted: “We have a conformity of shapes in our lawn cemetery. We were contacted by people who objected to the shape. The longer it stayed up, the harder the process would have been. It was a very difficult decision to remove it but one we had to make straight away.”
A council spokesperson added: “It wasn’t necessarily an objection to the shape but why we appeared to be applying one rule to one family and other rules to another. The stonemason in this situation did not have permission to put the stone up—and the stone is not in keeping with the graves in that area.” Max’s mother started a petition on change.org to have the stone put back in place, earning over 58,000 signatures, but the Malvern Town Council did not retract their decision.