BEREAVED Kendal parents have branded council officials ‘unreasonable’ after the headstone they proposed for their tragic baby son was rejected.


Demi and Steven May hoped to put up a memorial to four-month-old Harley at the town’s Parkside Road cemetery inspired by a children’s television show character.


However, South Lakeland District Council said it would be ‘unfair’ to other families to permit a design so different from the norm.
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“It’s a character off a children’s TV programme, In The Night Garden,” said Demi, 22.

“It’s a character called Igglepiggle and it’s just him next to a black stone with blue writing on it.


“It’s no different to having a teddy bear or a love heart in my opinion. Harrison [Harley’s twin] is autistic. He struggles to deal with his emotions so we wanted something he liked to make it a nicer experience for him when he goes to visit and it’s his favourite programme.”


The couple could not afford to pay the £2,534 for the headstone themselves but a charity called George’s Legacy offered to foot the bill.


A spokesperson for SLDC said: “We are always sympathetic to the wishes of bereaved parents and we are always happy to discuss the choice of memorial.


“On this occasion we have not had any direct contact with the family. 


“We have, however, received an application from a stonemason with details and drawings of a proposed memorial that, on balance, we considered was out of keeping with the surrounding memorials in the small babies graves section of the cemetery, and felt it would be unfair to the other families to permit something so different from the norm.”


For Demi, who this month had a caesarean section and brought home a new baby boy called Hunter, the rejection was ‘unreasonable’. 


“We’d like them to change their mind really,” she said. 


“I just think I could understand if it was offensive or if it was really elaborate or huge or it overpowered all the other headstones, but it doesn’t. 


“I just think when it’s your child and it’s the last thing you can do for them you can’t do anything else for them - you should be able to do whatever you want.”


Twins Harley and Harrison, were born in January 2015, three months premature.


The twins spent the first four months of their lives in hospital. 


Tragically, on the same day that his brother was taken home, Harley passed away.


“He was born three months early so he was very small and not all babies make it when they’re born that early,” Demi said. 


“He lived until four months but he kept getting infections.


“He never came home. We had to turn off his life support basically because there was nothing more they could do for him.”


Demi is now a full-time carer for Harrison and the main reason they want the headstone is to offer him comfort. 


She said that although he cannot express himself with speech, when he goes to the cemetery he does get upset.


“People might think this is stupid,” she explained. 


“But he points to the sky when he’s there. Because he’s autistic he doesn’t show his emotions very well but we can tell what he’s feeling. He doesn’t speak but he makes more noise and babbles and makes a particular noise he only makes when he’s upset. 


“I do think he understands a little bit. I don’t know if he feels some sort of connection when he’s there or not but he does definitely feel something.”


At the moment there are a few ornaments at Harley’s graveside and the couple spend time tidying up the overgrown grass when they can.


They said that the headstone rejection has ‘prolonged’ the grieving process.


As an alternative, the council has suggested that the family consider a teddy bear shape as there are already several memorials with such a design.


“Our cemetery regulations do allow the council the right to refuse permission for any memorial which may be considered unsuitable in either material, design or construction,” the SLDC spokesperson said.

“The objective of the regulation is to maintain a unity of overall appearance at the cemetery, without being too restrictive on individual personal choice of memorial.”


In the last 20 years, SLDC has only had three occasions when it felt it had to refuse permission for a memorial.


The spokesperson said that the council went to ‘great lengths’ to work with families to find a solution everyone was comfortable with.


“We are obviously more than happy to discuss this particular case with the family should they wish to contact us,” the spokesperson added.