'I will not be told what I can and cannot put on my son’s grave'

Roxanne Knight,

Roxanne Knight, mum whose protesting to keep solar lights on baby's grave. - Credit: Roxanne Knight

Mum Roxanne Knight is planning to protest at a cemetery in St Ives on Friday after being told to remove solar lights on her baby's gravestone.

Roxanne, 30, from Huntingdon, lost her son, Ayan Qureshi, at birth, on January 6, 2016 and he is buried in Hill Rise Cemetery, in St Ives.   

Roxanne and other families were notified after St Ives Town Council put up posters, which informed them that placing solar lights on graves in the cemetery was now prohibited. 

Ayan Qureshi's grave which sits in Hill Rise Cemetery in St Ives. 

Ayan Qureshi's grave which sits in Hill Rise Cemetery in St Ives. - Credit: Roxanne Knight

Roxanne and some of her friends will walk around the perimeter of the cemetery on Friday to carry out a silent protest. They will  carry solar lights, in opposition to the council's decision.  A petition, launched by Ryan Townsend, 28, from St Ives, has already been signed by more than 700 people in the last week.   

Roxanne said: “It is really disappointing, they are not hurting anyone, when you go there at night it is comforting, to know there are little lights there and it is not all in darkness. 

“I don’t think my baby’s grave should have to be in darkness, it is nice to have light in a cemetery I think.  You can barely even see them, they are tiny and they are not affecting anyone.  

“They {the council} said the solar lights will affect the wildlife, but we have a video of a pheasant at my son’s grave, it is not effecting the wildlife. 

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“I will not be told what I can and cannot put on my son’s grave, if they take any lights off the grave, I will put them all back on.  

"We've had solar lights on my son's grave for years, so I don't understand why they want to change this.

“I want to also thank everyone for signing the petition that Ryan has made.” 

Lorraine Bycroft

Notification for the removal of solar lights - Credit: Lorraine Bycroft

Ryan's brother Daryll is also buried at the cemetery and his grave also has solar light on it. 

Daryll, 20, tragically died in a car crash in 2010, and Ryan’s family visit his gravestone regularly and believe people should decorate their loved one’s graves how they see fit.  

Ryan said: “My mum goes up to Daryll’s grave at least four to five times a week, it is a grave for goodness sake! 

“All the graves there are not overpowering or tacky, it all looks so nice, and I understand that the council cut the grass, but I don’t see why they can't just cut around the gravestones.  

“We maintain the gravestone and I just think there is no need for this removal of the solar lights. 

“We pay a lot for the gravestone, it was £4,500 so it is so expensive and we like to lay flowers etc, a lot of people do.” 

In a statement St Ives Town Council said: “I promised to update the community on action being taken to review the decision on the prohibition of solar lights in the Town Council’s cemeteries. 

“To re-open discussions on a formal decision, within a period of six months, it is necessary to put a Special Motion to the Council meeting.  

“This requires five members of the Council to propose and support the motion. 

“I am pleased to inform you that five members of the Council have put forward a motion to re-open the debate on the decision taken at the Amenities Committee on 28 April.  

“The Motion will be presented to the meeting of the Town Council scheduled for 30 June. 

“I am very grateful to the community for all the feedback on this issue and will post the decision reached by Council on our Facebook site following the meeting.” 

To view and sign the petition visit: http://chng.it/swKLVZDX