'I never thought I'd have to bury my dad twice'

Caroline Sutherland
Caroline Sutherland says she has been left "traumatised" by the process [BBC]

Caroline Sutherland never imagined she would have to lay her father to rest twice.

Norrie Kennedy died in 2018 and was buried in Ayr Cemetery but just four years later his family faced the heartache of him being exhumed.

His body was removed along with 125 others after graves within the site became waterlogged.

His daughter now says the family has been let down by South Ayrshire Council over reburial arrangements.

The council said it was working closely with families to ensure that all of their wishes were met for the care of their loved ones.

Affected families were told of the drainage issues in 2022.

Restoration work at the cemetery began that August and involved the exhumation of 126 bodies.

They were taken to a specialist facility near Prestwick Airport to be prepared for re-interment.

In that time the lairs - or plots - were repaired, and work was completed last December.

Norrie Kennedy
Norrie Kennedy died in 2018 and was buried in Ayr Cemetery [BBC]

The former head of South Ayrshire Council previously told BBC Scotland News the families' wishes when it came to the reburial of their loved ones was his "number one priority".

But Ms Sutherland said she felt "let down" by the council.

She said that on the day her father was reburied, she arrived at the cemetery to find his gravestone was covered in mud.

Ms Sutherland told BBC Scotland News: "It was just a building site, there was mud and muck all over the gravestone and it was an icy, cold day in December.

"We had to try to clean his gravestone but because it was so icy, tissues would not work. Baby wipes didn't work either.

"A gravedigger had to come over and use water from his lunch to clean the gravestone before we could rebury him."

Families at cemetery
[BBC]

Ms Sutherland said: "The compassion wasn't there. It was a conveyor belt. That's not how you treat people.

"At the end of the day, we are people who have lost dads, mums, brothers, sisters and kids.

"We're trying to do the best we can to honour their lives and it's just muddied. That's what we're going to remember, it supersedes all the good memories."

South Ayrshire Council said it had spent £284,000 in total on re-interments, floral displays and the services of funeral directors.

The council leader previously promised to cover all costs and meet "any request" the families wanted in regard to reburials.

But Ms Sutherland said her family were told only certain coffins and floral tributes were allowed.

She said: "There was a limit on what you were allowed to spend, regardless of what anybody else at the council said.

"For all this heartache, stress, sleepless nights, crying you know, fighting even within the family and that's it - coffin and some flowers."

Individual requirements

The local authority told BBC Scotland News it understood that it had been a distressing time for families.

The council also said it had been in regular contact with relatives and lair owners throughout the process.

A spokesperson said: "Initial contact was via letter and subsequently telephone calls, and face-to-face meetings have also taken place.

"We have been working closely with families to ensure that all of their wishes are met for the care of their loved ones.

"Each family has individual requirements for their loved one and we have, where possible, fully absorbed those costs.

"The council has also provided support for families through bereavement counselling and will continue to offer support and liaise with them directly."

Ms Sutherland said she had been left "traumatised" and, despite being offered mental health support by the local authority, she believed "no amount of counselling" would help.

Families have also been told about water-logging at Troon Cemetery
Families have also been told about water-logging at Troon Cemetery [BBC]

Further drainage issues have also been discovered 10 miles away at Troon cemetery.

The council has identified flooding within 87 lairs there.

Of the total 51 are occupied and the bodies inside will also now need to be exhumed.

Work at Troon cemetery began in January.

South Ayrshire Council has promised to "liaise directly with families" impacted.

Ms Sutherland said she could only sympathise with families who had loved ones in the affected graves at Troon cemetery.

"There's nothing I can say that will help them in any way, apart from keep fighting, make sure you get what you want.

"Don't take no for an answer.

"They just need to try to get through it the best they can."