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Illicit gravestone barbecue fears scotched in Stafford

By Kerry.Ashdown  |  Posted: August 15, 2014

  • Geoff Dobbing with the ashes

  • Ashes on the gravestone

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ASHES spotted on gravestones in a Stafford churchyard sparked fears of an illicit barbecue – but a vicar has stressed they are nothing sinister.

Eagle-eyed town centre resident Geoff Dobbing saw the debris outside St Mary’s Church’s north door, opposite the Guildhall Shopping Centre, on Monday.

The 67-year-old was concerned that disrespectful revellers may have held a barbecue on the 19th century gravestones.

Town centre chaplain Reverend John Davis explained the ashes had indeed come from a barbecue – but it was an annual church event and the ashes had blown onto the gravestones during a windy weekend.

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The challenging conditions from Hurricane Bertha almost caused organisers to cancel their event – as organisers of a Katharine Jenkins concert at Betley Court Farm, south Cheshire, did. But they carried on, holding the barbecue outside and enjoying their food inside the church, and it was a great success.

“The barbecue was all about fellowship and coming together,” Rev Davis said “We applaud people keeping an eye on the grounds. We like people to enjoy the open space and it is wonderful to have that open space.

“But we do not want people to show disrespect and we worked with police when we were having a lot of complaints. That has now resolved itself.” 

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