‘A potty decision to prefer ugly vase in Leighton churchyard’

editorial image

A Second World War veteran who volunteered for over 80 years at Leighton Buzzard’s All Saints Church has been remembered with an ugly flower pot in the churchyard.

94-year-old chorister Bryan Gilbert died last year and left £1,000 in his will to his “beloved” church, for whom he often played the piano in his later years.

The medieval church has a ban on new gravestones and so family members marked Bryan’s interment with a small vase upon the grounds.

But church bosses objected to the inscription of Brian’s name on the vase and his heartbroken family were forced to replace it with a cheap plastic flower pot – no smaller than the vase.

Nephew Dennis Aris said: “His family wanted to mark the place where his ashes were interred with a discreet headstone, but understood when the church said it was not allowed...

“Instead they were told they could put a vase or plant pot on the site as it could be moved to allow for grass-cutting and other maintenance.

“Yet when they placed on the grave a small but elegant stone vase it was – to their fury – immediately removed by church elders because they had had the temerity to have their father’s name and dates inscribed on it.”

Mr Aris noted that “bizarrely” the larger cheap plastic flowerpot which stands there now does not infringe the rules.

2010 had marked Bryan’s 80 years at the church and it was celebrated with a large feature story in the LBO.

Mr Aris added: “Despite the family’s pleas, the authorities - who were only too keen to cash in on the publicity of Bryan’s long service and devotion during his lifetime, did not seem so keen on extending Christian charity and sympathy now that he has gone.”

When questioned by the LBO, an All Saints Church spokesman – who did not wish to be named – said: “The issue with regard to the memorial is that both the vicar here and the bishop have confirmed the family did not follow the protocol to have a memorial, this requires a lot of paperwork...”

When asked by the LBO what protocol the family should have followed, it was explained that there was in fact no procedure to follow, with an outright ban on “anything new” in the yard.

The spokesman said: “The family are allowed to have

the small pot but it has very clearly been explained to them.

“Mr Gilbert was a chorister and we do actually have a memorial inside the church.”

In the meantime, Bryan’s family have been left perplexed at how their vase broke the rules.

Nephew Mr Aris added: “Many times in the choir, Bryan must have sung the hymn ‘God moves in a mysterious way’.

“But even the Almighty seems to have been outdone in unfathomable behaviour by his representatives on earth.”

What do you think? Email news@lbobserver.co.uk