A DESCENDANT of a former Calderstones Hospital patient is fighting for her late aunt to be “given the dignity she deserves in death”.
Sandra McArdle (nee Middleton), who lives in Queensland, Australia, wants the cemetery where the remains of her aunt, Josephine Middleton, are buried to be properly maintained and her grave to be clearly marked.
Mrs McArdle’s efforts are being backed by community stalwart and Whalley resident Mel Diack MBE, who prompted an article in The Clitheroe Advertiser and Times in October when he called the cemetery “a national disgrace”.
The cemetery off Mitton Road (formerly Calderstones Cemetery) is now a privately owned cemetery called Journey’s End.
Just beyond it is Whalley Military Cemetery, which is in a pristine condition and well maintained by its owners, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
However, this memorial burial ground for soldiers from the First World War and Second World War who stayed at Calderstones Hospital can only be accessed through Journey’s End cemetery, which has been in a very poor state of repair for many months.
Mr Diack is angry that no effort has been made to improve the condition of the cemetery, despite the complaints he made just under six months ago.
He says entrance boards to the cemetery are “tatty and more than disgraceful” .
“These boards are a disgrace not only to the former patients buried in the area, but to the servicemen buried at the further end of this site and obviously the present owner is not interested. The board on the left is simply peeling away and rotting,” said Mr Diack.
Journey’s End cemetery was formerly used by Calderstones Hospital as the final resting place for many of its patients. It is believed almost 1,000 people are buried there in now unmarked graves following the removal of headstones by previous owners.
Last year, Mrs McArdle flew from Australia to find her aunt Josephine’s final resting place, but was disgusted by what she found.“We were appalled at the disrepair, the neglect and desecration in the fact the headstones had been removed. Who makes these inhumane decisions? I just stood and cried that this could be done to these unfortunate souls who needed our help in life and in death,” said Sandra.
“What a tragedy to allow human beings, who through no fault of their own, just the cards of life they were dealt, ended up in Calderstones Asylum and then in Journey’s End.
“Patients suffering from illnesses and diseases we would now consider menial entered and stayed. Most would have had a pitiful somewhat lonely life, yet in death we cannot give them the dignity they deserve.”
Arthur Morgan, of Skelmersdale-based Remembrance Place (2000) Ltd which owns the site told us back in October that his company was committed to its plans to build a crematorium on the site.
However, six months on, Mr Morgan this week said that the site had been sold and he would be able to provide more details soon.
Mr Diack would like to hear from anyone who knows the names of anyone else who is buried in the cemetery in order for a proper memorial list to be compiled. Contact Mr Diack via email at firstname.lastname@example.org