May 13 2011 by Lisa Boyle, Ayrshire Post (main ed)
GRAVE diggers buried a man’s body in the wrong lair at a village cemetery.
John Graham, known as Jonney, was supposed to be laid to rest beside his late wife Mary.
But the 90-year-old has ended up in the same plot as two complete strangers, who happen to share his surname.
The lair is in the same row of the small graveyard as Mary’s coffin, but is six graves to the right of it.
East Ayrshire Council has admitted that the blunder at Drongan Cemetery is their fault and has nothing to do with Co-operative funeral directors.
Mr Graham’s family is utterly devastated at the horrible mistake and was too upset to talk to the Post.
But another villager said: “Everyone is just gutted for them. Jonney was well known and well liked in Drongan.
“To think that something like this could happen to him is absolutely unbelievable.”
The former miner died peacefully at Ayr hospital on April 21.
His well attended funeral took place at Drongan’s Schaw Kirk last Tuesday morning before a burial service at the cemetery.
The writing on the headstone at the grave is badly faded so nobody realised he was being placed in the wrong lair.
It was only later that evening, when family members went to take photographs of the wreaths, that the mistake was discovered.
The villager added: “People at the funeral did wonder why Jonney wasn’t being buried with his Mary, but just assumed that maybe she had been cremated or there was some other reason.”
The lair Jonney was mistakenly placed in had lain undisturbed for 40 years.
Alex Graham was laid to rest there in 1936 at the age of 44.
His late wife Jane died in 1971, aged 76, and was buried with her husband.
Council staff have been unable to trace relatives of Alex and Jane Graham.
It could take weeks for Jonney to be exhumed and reburied.
A complex legal process has to be followed and legal documents must be approved and signed by a sheriff.
It is expected that when his coffin is brought to the surface again that it will be done privately, either late at night or early morning, without a second funeral.
Council bosses are now investigating the error to find out how it happened.
Robert McCulloch is outdoor amenities manager for East Ayrshire Council.
He says that new procedures will be put in place as a direct result of the incident.
He said: “We can confirm that an error took place in connection with the burial of Mr John Graham in Drongan Cemetery on Tuesday, May 3.
“We are working closely with the family to rectify the situation and we sincerely apologise for any distress caused to them.
“We continue to provide support to the family and our thoughts remain with them.
“We will undertake a full review of procedures in order to ensure such an incident does not happen again.”