AS OUR campaign gets underway a number of people have pledged their support to try and push through a change to the burial rules at Thornbury Cemetery.

In July a story was published in the Gazette regarding the death and subsequent burial fees furore of Ernest Shepherd, 94, who had lived in Thornbury for almost 50 years.

After having to move in to the closest available care home, in Wickwar, Mr Shepherd had to sell his home to pay the care fees and, 28 days later, and unknown to his family, he was no longer eligible to receive the residents rate for a plot at Thornbury Cemetery.

When Mr Shepherd died, just 42 days after having to sell his home, his son-in-law, Nigel Osborne, had to pay a fee of double the cost of that for a Thornbury resident and instead of paying £462 for a plot had to pay £926.

Mr Osborne brought the issue to the attention of the Gazette and in July a story was published about the rules, following that we had numerous letters supporting Mr Osborne's position who has backed the campaign.

He said: "What I want are the rules changed so that people who have lived in Thornbury for so long aren't classed as outsiders. We've got a lot of support and everyone I've spoken to has been in support of our view that these rules need updating."

Traders based in the town have now thrown their weight behind the campaign.

Tina Stevens, who runs The Wool Stop in the town, added her name to the campaign’s supporters.

She said: “We were in this situation with my Granddad, he had to move to a home in Portishead and my Nan had to sell their house to pay for the fees. When he died we had to pay a higher fee to have him cremated.”

Liz Pell who runs a cake decorations store in Thornbury and also holds cake classes said that the rules were disgusting:

“I certainly support the Gazette’s campaign to change the rules. I understand the situation because I had to sell my Mum’s home to pay for care home fees.

“It’s bad enough having to sell your home but these rules are just ridiculous.”

Riddifords green grocers, based in Thornbury High Street, have said that they believe the rules are stupid and need to be changed.

Thornbury Cemetery is run by the town council and they will discuss the current regulations at the next Playing Fields and Cemetery Committee meeting, held on Thursday, September 11.

A council spokesman said: "This is a historic rule and we have to stick to it, we've never had any problems before to suggest it needs changing.

"Now that an issue has been brought to light we've reviewed all the terms and conditions and the councillors will decide what to do at the next meeting."

As of Wednesday, August 27 our petition has been supported by more than 35 people who have been calling for the current rules in place at the cemetery to be changed and made fairer.

People have been able to sign the petition held in Wildings in Thornbury High Street, by voting in the online poll on the Gazette website or by posting a coupon which was printed in the Gazette published on Thursday, August 21.

The petition can be signed in the Wildings or the coupon printed on this page can be posted to the Gazette offices at: Thornbury Gazette, Reliance House, Long Street, Dursley, GL11 4LS.