South Korea weighs in as Hemsby widow praises cemetery victory

THE widow of Frank Jackson said “justice had been done” after permission was given for her husband to be buried in Hemsby cemetery.

Korean War veteran Mr Jackson can now be laid to rest in the village were he spent the last years of his life after the parish council reversed a ruling that he was not a local resident.

Regulations that classed occupants of Belle Aire chalet park as holidaymakers had prevented Mr Jackson being placed in Hemsby burial ground.

His widow Vera campaigned against the decision which divided the village and placed Hemsby in the glare of the national media spotlight.

Councillors agreed to allow Mr Jackson, who died aged 78 on December 23, to be buried in the cemetery at a packed parish meeting on Monday night.

Mrs Jackson was allowed to speak on this issue, which was originally going to be discussed in closed session.

She said: “I feel justice has been done, but it shouldn’t take a meeting like this to decide if a man can be buried in the cemetery.

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“It has been horrible having to cope with this after Frank’s death, he should have been buried four weeks ago. This added to our grief and distress during a very difficult time.

“The councillors kept going on about our home being on a holiday park, but we have lived here for the last eight years and paid our taxes like everyone else.

“I don’t think the issue was handled well, the meeting should have been bought forward and should not have taken a month to resolve. I hope this policy is reversed now and that no one else has to go through this. A lot of people were not even aware that chalet residents could not be buried in the village.”

Artillery gunner Mr Jackson received 42pc burns to his arms and legs in the Korean War and had expressed a wish not to be cremated. A metal rod had to be placed in his leg as a result of the injuries.

A retired mechanic, he moved permanently from Hertfordshire to Hemsby with his wife in 2003 after retiring through ill-health.

The couple had previously shared many happy family holidays in the property which they purchased 35 years ago.

Residents of the chalet park have to move out of their homes for six weeks a year, which Mr and Mrs Jackson spent with daughter Carol who lives at Stable Field, Hemsby.

Hemsby Parish Council chairman Bob Reynolds told the Mercury the decision to allow Mr Jackson to be buried in the cemetery was based on his distinguished war service.

He said: “We cannot open the floodgates or there will be no room in the burial ground for parishioners. This was a one-off decision, what swung it was that Mr Jackson was a war veteran.

“The rules and regulations are being reviewed, but an exception was made in this case and no precedent has been set. I have been inundated with messages about this and was even told the South Korean Embassy wanted to get involved.”

Mr Reynolds confirmed that two parish councillors, Lyndon Bevan and Maria Ellis, had resigned this week, but was not able to reveal if this was connected to the controversy over Mr Jackson’s burial.

The family received the support of Hemsby vicar Adrian Ling who will carry out Mr Jackson’s funeral service at the parish church next Friday.

Father Ling said that Belle Aire residents would be allowed burial in the churchyard if that had not been full. The cemetery is next to the churchyard.

“I raised this issue at the parish meeting last April, it should never have come to this and was something I wanted to avoid,” he added.

“This was a distressing incident for the family and it seems that rules have outweighed compassion. Mrs Jackson should not have to go to a parish council meeting to resolve the matter. I have told the family not to let their impression of Hemsby be coloured by the actions of the parish council – many people in the village support them.

“Another family were previously told a loved could not be laid to rest in the village and agreed for the burial to take place at Caister cemetery because they did not want a fight.

“I hope for a meeting between myself, parish council and funeral directors to see if the issue of burials in the village can be administered better. This situation must not be allowed to happen again.”

Hemsby residents speaking to the Mercury this week expressed their support for Mr Jackson being laid to rest in the village.

Joyce Phelan said: “He should be allowed to be buried here. The issue has gone on a while and should have been dealt with more promptly. The village has not appeared in a good light and the parish council have not done themselves any favours. I don’t think any councillors should resign over this though.”

A resident of Belle Aire, who did not wish to be named, said: “We are in the same position as Frank and know that other chalet owners have had to be buried at Caister. I hope there will be a change of stance, so when my time comes I can be buried in Hemsby. The problem is this is a rather closed village where people keep to themselves.”

l See Letters on Pages 10 & 11