DEVASTATED mourners were left in "hysterics" as they had to wait for a beloved man's grave to be finished on the day of his funeral.

Following the tragic passing of 48-year-old Christopher Raftry last month, his family and friends came to pay their respects and lay him to rest on Monday, June 3.

Following a funeral service at St Richard's Church in Atherton, Christopher was set to be buried at a sentimental spot in Tyldesley Cemetery, where his grandparents are both buried.

However, mourners were left horrified as the grave had not been completed prior to the funeral, and family members also complained about the conduct of gravediggers and the "appalling condition" that the site was left in.

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Family members complained about the condition the grave was left inFamily members complained about the condition the grave was left in (Image: Thomas Raftry)
Christopher's elderly dad Thomas, 86, said: "The way the reception was conducted at the cemetery was disgraceful.

"When we arrived with the funeral cars at the graveside, there was a gravedigger still inside the grave, digging out the sides of the hole from where the machine had not cut.

"The grass had not even been mowed and we could hear the gravedigger muttering to himself and asking 'who is going to pay for all of this extra work?'

"The family were in hysterics and had to stand in the rain for about ten minutes to wait for the job to be finished."

Christopher passed away aged 48 last monthChristopher passed away aged 48 last month (Image: Thomas Raftry)
On his first return to the grave six days after the funeral, Thomas said he was left in further shock at the state of the burial ground, which is now the resting place for his son, mum, and dad.

Thomas, a veteran and former coal miner, who also worked as a gravedigger for a brief period, said: "After mass on Sunday 9th, we returned to the grave to find that every drop of soil had been poured in and piled up to approximately two feet high.

"It looked like roadworks rather than a grave, and lots of the carnations from his wreath had been cut off and spread everywhere.

"Other flowers looked like they had been flattened or taken, and a vase looked like it had been thrown to the back of the grave. The large spray on top of the gravestone had been left standing on wet grass too.

"Nobody would leave a grave like this for their own family and it feels like there is no dignity in getting buried anymore."

Thomas returned to the grave to find soil piled up and carnations and flowers missingThomas returned to the grave to find soil piled up and carnations and flowers missing (Image: Thomas Raftry)
After the devastation of losing his son, Thomas said he felt "really let down" and raised his concerns with a representative for the cemetery, which is managed by Wigan Council.

While the man was apologetic, Thomas said that he tried to pass the blame onto others and suggested that rabbits may have eaten the carnations.

The grave has since been cleaned "as it should have been on the day", Thomas added.

Andrew Bond, Wigan Council’s bereavement services manager, said: “We regret that there was an administrative error in communication with the funeral directors in this instance, and we wholeheartedly apologise for any upset this caused.

“We have been liaising with the family, and we will be reviewing our protocols to ensure this situation doesn’t happen again.”