Mother heartbroken after her deceased 4-year-old’s headstone was removed because someone complained

Mother heartbroken after her deceased 4-year-old’s headstone was removed because someone complained

A mother from Worcestershire, England, was devastated when her son’s star-shaped headstone was removed because someone was offended it was distorting the uniformity in the cemetery. [1]

Four-year-old Max Corbett-Gardener suffered complications from severe epilepsy and passed away in 2012. It would have been his 7th birthday that year, in 2015. His mother, 42-year-old Jo Corbett-Weeks who works part-time in a bar saved up $4,000 to have a special headstone made for her boy. 

The headstone for the little angel was installed on his memorial day, May 31, and according to his mother, it was perfect for her precious son. It was a lovely carved marble stone featuring a teddy bear holding a star. Little Max had loved his teddy bear dearly. His mother had wanted to lay him to rest with the memory, but it was cruelly snatched away from her three days later.

Another family complained that the headstone was not “in keeping” with the all the others, and the Great Malvern Cemetery authority had it taken down — without contacting Jo.

I chose a star-shaped stone because I wanted something suitable for Max — something personal,” said Jo who is also Mom to Zoe, 16, and TJ, 5.  “This stone is just so perfect for my poor little chap.”

“I was totally unaware this was going on. The council did not contact me and it was the stonemason who told me he’d been ordered to remove it. I feel upset, distressed, and angry. We have been through so much as a family. I could understand if the grave was uncared for or unsightly, but it isn’t.[2]

Old wounds reopened

When Jo requested that the Malvern Town Council, who is in charge of the cemetery reinstall her son’s headstone, they denied her request and stood by their decision.

Jo had wanted her son to be close to other family members, so she had him buried in the adult section of the cemetery. She was later told that the stone would have been approved at the children’s section.

We have a conformity of shapes in our lawn cemetery,” a spokesman for the council said. “We were contacted by people who objected to the shape. The longer it stayed up, the harder the process would have been. It was a very difficult decision to remove it but one we had to make straight away.

According to the spokesman, if the council had gotten wind of the intent before the headstone was installed, they would have prevented the installation before the boy’s memorial. From the complaint, the other family wasn’t exactly bothered about the shape of the headstone. They were mostly upset because the council had allowed the rules to be bent. 

In the end, the council stated it felt “great sympathy” for Jo’s family, but the mason hadn’t consulted with them before installing the stone. 

It wasn’t necessarily an objection to the shape but why we appeared to be applying one rule to one family and other rules to another,” the spokesman said. “The stonemason in this situation did not have permission to put the stone up — and the stone is not in keeping with the graves in that area. By not following the correct process he has caused considerable distress to both families.”

New considerations

Since the tribute to her son had been so rudely removed, the devastated mother was willing to drag it out with the council to have her son’s headstone reinstalled, but they remained unwavering.

“The headstone meant a lot to me and the family but now we are fighting to have it put back,” she said. “It’s a horrible situation. We just want to have somewhere to grieve.”

The spokesperson explained that in the coming weeks, Jo would have to sit in a meeting with the council to discuss a new headstone design for her son. 

All it took was a single complaint from another family who happened to be passing by for Jo’s place of peace to be dismantled. People online were outraged by the council’s decision. It wasn’t only unnecessary but had been wrongly executed.

May Max’s young soul continue to rest in eternal peace.


  1. Mom Distraught After She Found Son’s Headstone Gone, And The Strange Reason Why.The Epoch Times. Jack Phillips. August 22, 2019.
  2. Malvern mum’s distress after son’s headstone removed.” BBC News. June 5, 2015.