Row over teen’s grave at Ossett cemetery

1st September 2011'Jenny Howden and family at the graveside of her daughter Jess Harris, 17, who died in a car crash in February. They have been told they are not allowed a certain head stone because of regulations'PICTURE: MATTHEW PAGE
1st September 2011'Jenny Howden and family at the graveside of her daughter Jess Harris, 17, who died in a car crash in February. They have been told they are not allowed a certain head stone because of regulations'PICTURE: MATTHEW PAGE

THE family of a teenage girl who was killed in a car crash have spoken of their added grief over a row about her grave.

Jess Harris, 17, died in February after the car she was travelling in hit a van on Netherton Lane. The driver Dean Pinchbeck, 21, also died.

Since then her mother Jenny Howden has saved up to have a special headstone at her daughter’s grave, which has become a shrine to Jess, a former Gawthorpe May Queen.

But South Ossett Church, which owns the Manor Road cemetery, has said her design and colour does not fit in with current regulations.

Miss Howden said she never received the regulation guidelines which are supposed to be signed by grieving families before their loved ones are buried.

Miss Howden, 39, of Swithenbank Avenue, Ossett, tends to the grave daily and said: “This is the last thing I can do for my daughter and I have saved every penny I have to get her the best.

“I did not know about the regulations and if I did I would not have had her buried there.

“The ordeal has made it tough to go to the cemetery, but I feel like I am forgetting her if I do not go everyday.

“Nobody should have to bury their child let alone go through all of this.”

Miss Howden only found out about the regulations through a stonemason before she got a heart-shaped stone with angel made.

She said she was not allowed a picture and has been told to remove flowers and trinkets from the grave.

She said she would change the colour from brown to black and other gravestones in the cemetery include pictures.

She claims Wakefield Diocese told her she could have her daughter exhumed if she was not happy and has been warned it could cost at least £1,000 in solicitor fees if she wants to fight the church.

The family have now started an online petition.

Jess’s grave is next to former coal race queen Sandra Barlow, whose family were also refused a brick red headstone.

Wakefield Diocese was unavailable to comment before the Express went to press.