BURNESIDE residents have reacted with outrage to an ongoing issue with the state of the graveyard at St Oswald’s Church.

The church took part in the No Mow May campaign, which is a national movement that aims at boosting the flowers, and nectar, available to pollinating insects such as bees, butterflies, and moths.

However, since the campaign the grass is still yet to be cut after difficulties experienced by the volunteers.

The church has been the centre of a controversial matter when flowers and ornaments were removed from graves, much to the shock of residents with loved ones in the church.

Local resident Vikky Gordon said: "The state of the graveyard is appalling.

"To see your loved one’s graves so overgrown is so upsetting.

"It was bad enough the church removing all the pots & flowers from my sisters graves but to now see it like this is heart-breaking.

"I understand the church was taking part in ‘No Mow May’ but we’re now in the middle of June. I’ve never seen a graveyard look so bad. It’s also a health & safety issue with the grass being so long.

"The church want all the regulations followed to the book that’s why they removed the artificial flowers & pots but it also state in those regulations that the church is responsible for the upkeep, it appears to be one rule for us & another for them."

Resident Diane McRobbie said: "I would just like to say as long as I've lived in Burneside and that's 52 years I've never known it in this over grown state."

Another resident who wished to remain anonymous said: "They have a no mow in May policy for the bees and the butterflies, but there was no flowers in the high grass because it was above knee height and was so thick that no flowers could come through, so why didn’t they just leave the not used parts for no mow May, and the parts that are used regularly by people could have been tended.

"Because they’ve made so much fuss about the churchyard needing to be presentable, and the silk flowers and vases being unsightly and unsafe, and them needing to be removed for health and safety reasons, yet the trip hazard was unbelievable in the churchyard when we went at the start of June.

"It was a mess, the grass was between two and three feet high, I mean how can that possibly look like a presentable churchyard, it looks abandoned. It looks such a mess, especially when it was so beautiful in the spring, previously to the recent issues the Churchyard has always looked lovely and well kept, even though Covid it was beautiful, it's only recently with the strict regulations being enforced and now this No Mow May, that things have gone downhill. Not every grave has a tall gravestone, some of them have pots, or half sized stones, and they just disappeared into the grass, so you couldn’t see them.

"So, if you walked to visit your loved one, it made it quite easy to fall over, and falling against one of those stones could surely end in some quite serious injury.

"Two of our loved one’s graves there you couldn’t see at all over the grass, and one of them has had two cremation boxes added afterwards, so the ground has a dip in it, when the grass is mowed you can see the dip but as it is you cannot. My husband who struggles with mobility due to his disability, actually did fall into the dip because he couldn’t see it, he stumbled forward and luckily managed to catch himself on the gravestone, otherwise he would have fallen, and he would have struggled to get up again.

"A lot of the older residents are quite upset that it was such a mess, some have actually resorted to bringing strimmer’s themselves just to be able to see the graves and put the regulated fresh flowers on! I am all for them leaving areas for the wildlife but does it have to be the whole graveyard so you can’t actually get through it? It isn’t safe."

A spokesperson from the Diocese of Carlisle said: "On Thursday 2 June a volunteer spent several hours cutting paths through the churchyard and clearing areas at the front but leaving some patches of long grass and wildflowers as the church is currently striving to achieve eco churchyard status.

"A few days later another volunteer completed several hours more work.

"Unfortunately, the lawn mower has subsequently broken down and is currently being repaired.

"It was brought to church members’ attention that some people were saying it was difficult to get to graves, so last Saturday several volunteers cut around graves and collected the grass from paths.

"Paths have also been cut along all rows in order that all graves are readily accessible.

"It is important to point out that an eco-churchyard is not a manicured churchyard.

"The whole point of such a venture is that naturally occurring flora and fauna can be allowed to thrive and the richness of biodiversity of our churchyards can be clear to see for all.

"As such, some areas in the Burneside churchyard will be left to re-wild, though foliage and shrubbery will all be cut back in the autumn when flowering has ended and seeds have been sown.

"Our prayer is that people will be able to appreciate the natural beauty that abounds in the churchyard as a result of this project; one which will be conducted with all due sensitivity both for those who visit the graves of loved ones and for the natural environment of this sacred space."