Grieving mum thanks council for cleaning up cemetery

Malia Hill is grateful to the city council for taking such care in cleaning up the children's...
Malia Hill is grateful to the city council for taking such care in cleaning up the children's section of the Belfast Cemetery. PHOTO: GEOFF SLOAN
Malia Hill has been visiting the Belfast Cemetery for 29 years.

But for the last two years, the children’s section was looking unkempt and the headstones were covered in leaves.

Her two sons Matthew and Patrick are buried at the cemetery, Matthew died as a baby 29 years ago, and last year she lost Patrick.

Mrs Hill tried to keep her sons’ plots tidy, but the leaves just kept building up.

“The whole place was an eyesore. It was very sad,” she said.

So she took matters into her own hands and she called the city council.

“I have been so disappointed that for the last two years the leaves have not been cleaned up, and this year has been really bad,” she said.

It got to the point where visiting the cemetery became dangerous.

“The leaves were so deep that they concealed the dips in the ground. I twisted my ankle because I walked into one of the dips. I saw on one occasion an elderly women nearly falling over, luckily she was caught by another young person before she fell,” Mrs Hill said.

After a month of no change following her first phone call to the city council, she tried again.

A week later, to her astonishment, the cemetery was transformed.

The neglected headstones were clear of leaves and old flowers had been tidied away. The sight brought a tear to her eye.

“I cried, and just thought: ‘Thank you to the person who did it.’ It made me feel so good that someone had looked after our babies,” Mrs Hill said.

Mrs Hill visits the cemetery every weekend, and she said it’s much nicer to visit the cemetery now the leaves are gone.

“Whoever tidied the area up took a lot of care, and did a fantastic job,” she said.

Mrs Hill feels a sense of guardianship over the children’s section of the cemetery, as a lot of the names of children are familiar.

She was the chairperson of the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society, so she knows a lot of the parents of the children buried at the Belfast Cemetery.

Mrs Hill said she isn’t very good at articulating what she’s thinking, but she always speaks from her heart.

“A lot of parents can’t visit their children’s graves, and if I’m there all the time, I feel I need to do my best to look after all the babies.”

 

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