'Uproar' after rainbow bows tied to Hebburn Cemetery gates are removed

Rainbow bows and colourful roses hung at Hebburn Cemetery to ‘uplift the community’ and pay tribute to NHS staff and loved ones who have lost their lives to coronavirus have been taken down.

Wednesday, 22nd April 2020, 6:14 pm

‘Hundreds’ of residents are now calling for the ‘beautiful’ bows and roses to been reinstated at the cemetery after they were taken down following a decision by South Tyneside Council, the chairman of Friends of Hebburn Cemetery has said.

But the council says it has been ‘made aware of concerns raised about decorations’ and says they are ‘not reflective of the quiet space the cemetery provides’.

And are now asking residents to get in touch so a ‘sensitive, balanced approach’ can be found.

John Stewart with pictures of the bows and roses at the cemetery.

John Stewart, chairman of the Friends of Hebburn Cemetery, says he received a call from the council this morning (Tuesday, April 21) asking him to remove the rainbow bows and rose that were tied to the gates as they had received a complaint.

He said: “It has caused absolute uproar. It was there to brighten it up for people who can’t go with their loved ones on their final journey.

“Everybody loved them, it really brightened the place up in these dark times when no one knows what is happening.

“They were up there to represent the NHS and to every single person who has lost their life in this town to that horrible virus.

A colourful rose was also donated.

“It’s about giving people a bit of hope.”

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The bows, which have now been tied to Hebburn Sports Club, were donated by Karen Collins who has created thousands of the colourful tributes which have been placed around the town including care homes, parks and outside a funeral directors.

The 60-year-old said: “I’ve had so many people say how lovely they look. They there to lighten up Hebburn and to pay respect to the loved ones who have lost their lives to this disease.

Karen Collins has made hundreds of bows for the community.

“I’m not upset for me but for the people of Hebburn.

“I’ve asked permission to tie them to the cemetery, the care homes and the funeral directors and they all said they thought it was a lovely idea.”

But the council says it has received concerns about the decorations who say it is not reflective of the space the cemetery provides.

A South Tyneside Council spokesperson posted a message on it’s Facebook page this evening.

A blue poppy has been donated to the cemetery to pay tribute to the NHS

It reads: “We have been made aware of concerns raised about decorations placed at Hebburn Cemetery. We are pleased to see our communities coming forward to pay respects during this extraordinary time and we thank those who are coming up with ideas to show their support across South Tyneside.

“At the same time, we have listened to the views of regular visitors to Hebburn cemetery, who appreciate the sentiment, but who have suggested some of the decoration is not reflective of the quiet space the cemetery provides.

“We are keen to consider the views of both cemetery visitors and others in the community to find a sensitive, balanced approach.

“Anyone who wishes to get in touch about this can contact us via direct message.”

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