Gravestone to return after priest’s U-turn on decision

Victory: Janet Corless and her daughter Sophie Howsley
Victory: Janet Corless and her daughter Sophie Howsley
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A memorial to a much-loved dad is to be reinstated after the priest who banned it made a U-turn on his decision.

Mike Howsley’s grieving family had been ordered to remove the headstone from his grave when a church leader ruled the two kisses on it were “inappropriate”.

But, after the row was highlighted by the Lancashire Evening Post, the parish priest has now apologised for a “miscommunication”, and the stone can be put back.

Mike’s partner Janet said: “I just want it back up and I’ll be absolutely over the moon. I am really relieved and I can’t thank everybody enough.”

Mike died suddenly in January at the age of 49. His family bought a headstone with the words “sleep tight Dad”, for his grave at St Mary’s Brownedge Church in Bamber Bridge. But Janet and her daughter Sophie, 19, were asked to remove it.

Janet, 52, said: “When he died suddenly like that we didn’t get time to say bye to him, so they were our thoughts and I’m so glad if we can put that back - it means the world.”

A statement from parish priest Fr George Corrie said: “We are very sorry there has evidently been a miscommunication regarding appropriate wording for Mr Howsley’s headstone.

“Canon law asks us to preserve the sacred character of a Catholic Christian graveyard and the parish does its best to maintain the graveyard as a place of dignity and beauty.

“For that reason the parish booklet offering guidelines on headstones includes, a number of suggestions about inscriptions which reflect our Catholic belief in the resurrection.

“So we will seek to work with the family to put up a plaque which complements what is already on the headstone and gives them comfort.”