A MOTHER was left in tears after her stillborn son’s grave ornaments were removed by church bosses.

Michelle Gannon broke down in shock when she went to visit her son’s gravestone the day after what would have been his 20th birthday, to find several ornaments, small garden lights and slate chipping had been taken away.

Mrs Gannon, of Darwen, said she went to see the vicar at St Thomas’ Church in Oldham, where her son, Cameron, is buried.

The mother-of-five said the vicar, Rev Denise Owen, told her the ornaments had been removed following a decision which had been agreed at a church meeting.

Mrs Gannon, 49, said some of the items had been on the plot for 18 years and she wishes the church had told her of the decision so she could have removed the ornaments herself.

She said: “I was truly heartbroken when I saw the grave.

“The little fence had been smashed and the ornaments had been ripped out.

“I had to lightly cement a few into the ground as kids had been moving them and messing about with them, so they’ve clearly wrenched them out with force.

“This is the only place I have for my son and I feel like I can’t put things here.”

A Diocese of Manchester spokesman said the Parochial Church Council (PCC) met last summer to discuss diocesan regulations and decided mementoes and lights would not be allowed on graves.

Mrs Gannon said: “If I was told about it I could have moved them myself and taken them home. I didn’t think they were excessive or in the way. Everything is small and within the plot.”

Cameron was stillborn three weeks before his due date in 1999 and Mrs Gannon said he was one of the last people to be buried in the church yard.

Mrs Gannon said she kept her son’s grave clean and weeded it and the surrounding areas regularly.

She said: “I was told there was a small sign put on the gate as you walk into the grounds about removing ornaments, but I’ve never seen it and the gate is usually open so you never come in contact with it.

“I get very upset when I come here and a small sign on a gate I barely see is the last thing I am thinking about.

“They could have come to me and spoken to me. I feel so hurt by all this.

“I feel like they don’t want my son to be there.

“I feel like he doesn’t belong in the church grounds.”

A Diocese of Manchester spokesman said notices were displayed in the churchyard and the Garden of Remembrance to explain the decision and request that items not complying with the regulations be removed.

The spokesman said: “Notices were displayed from last autumn for a period of six months, including over the Christmas period, when it was thought more relatives were likely to visit the graves of loved ones.

“The church also publicised the decision on its Facebook page.

“A date was given as the end of March 2019 when any remaining unauthorised items would be removed by the PCC.

“Denise met Michelle in the graveyard when she came to visit.

“Denise tried to explain why the items had been removed and Michelle was very distressed.

“Denise returned most of the items that had been removed from the grave for safe keeping to Michelle at this time, and the remaining items will be returned if Michelle wishes to contact her to arrange this.”