A PENSIONER says her health has suffered from sleepless nights after silk flowers placed on family graves were removed as a matter of policy from Aylton churchyard.

But churchwardens say they are only enforcing strict orders from the Diocesan office and have been left as “piggies in the middle.”

Mrs Carol Chadney, who grew up in Aylton but now lives in Yorkshire, said she had contacted the wardens and was told that the flowers had been removed as a matter of policy.

But she said: “I think it’s disgusting. All the upset and distress this has caused is unbelievable.

“What’s the problem?”

Mrs Chadney said the removal of the silk roses were discovered by her sister, Jean Farley, aged 84, on a visit to the church last Sunday.

Mrs Chadney said: “There was a note under a pot saying the artificial roses were not allowed.”

But the family had long taken to placing silk roses in the autumn and winter time on the grave of Mrs Chadney’s mother, Ellen Williams, who died 32 years ago, and on the shared grave of her brothers, Raymond and Roland Williams.

In the spring and summer, family members place fresh flowers on the graves.

Mrs Chadney, aged 72, said the silk roses were high quality, with just a small number in each small pot, and she added: “This has made me poorly. I have not been sleeping.

“It’s on my mind all of the time.”

The family is especially upset because, over the years, they had made donations to the church, such as providing funds for a hand rail.

Churchwarden, Anne Blandford said the flowers had been taken to a cupboard in the church but had since disappeared.

She added: “We have agreed that we will pay for them, as a good will gesture, as we cannot give the flowers back.

“It’s a difficult situation. The churchwardens have been given a directive from the Diocesan Office saying artificial flowers are not allowed and are to be removed, except at Christmas time, perhaps. We have to put this into practice.”

There is a notice on the noticeboard at Aylton Church, to this effect.

But Mrs Blandford said: “I don’t know what else to do. The order is from on high, so to speak.

“I feel we are piggies in the middle. It’s awkward and embarrassing, and I really feel for Carol and her sister.”