Flooded Berkshire cemeteries and graveyards cause problems with burials

Shaw Cemetery Shaw Cemetery in Newbury suffered from fallen trees and flooding

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Recent flooding has made it harder for staff at cemeteries and churches in Berkshire to hold funerals.

Gravediggers have struggled to stop graves from flooding and collapsing due to high groundwater levels.

Windsor and Maidenhead Council has had to pump out flood water from graves, and one church in Tilehurst has had to cancel a funeral as its graveyard is underwater.

A Reading funeral director said his "heart goes out to families" affected.

Julian Walker, from funeral director AB Walker & Son, said: "At some funerals the family have had to stand not too close to the graves to make sure they don't collapse."

However, almost all funerals have been going ahead as planned, despite flooding problems.

'Very distressing'

The Reverend John Rogers, of St Michael's Church in Tilehurst, which is about to celebrate its 825th anniversary, said his church had historically had a problem with underground streams in the graveyard making it difficult to dig graves.

He said: "We had a burial scheduled for tomorrow which we couldn't carry out.

"We couldn't dig the graves because the water level is above the level of the grave, and it would be very distressing for the family."

Shaw Cemetery in Newbury had to close on Monday due to flooding and trees coming down in the storms. It has since reopened.

Tim Morris, chief executive of the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management, said he had never known cemeteries to be so badly affected by weather in his 30 years in the industry.

He said: "As soon as you start to dig, the graves fill with water, and of course that's not only difficult for funerals, it's also quite dangerous for the gravediggers to dig down six or seven feet with water coming in and potentially the sides of the excavation collapsing."

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