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Court permits Autism Society colours on child’s gravestone

17 February 2023

Autism Society

The Autism Society logo

The Autism Society logo

PERMISSION has been granted for a gravestone that incorporates the colours of the Autism Society, in a case described as “tragic” by the Vicar-General of the diocese of Sodor & Man, the Worshipful Howard Connell.

The petition was brought by the Vicar and churchwardens of St Paul’s, Foxdale, supported by the PCC, and concerns the grave of a child with autism who drowned at home.

The child, referred to in the judgment as “J”, drowned in his therapeutic bath in 2018. His father, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, and was — according to the application — especially traumatised by the manner of his son’s death, has tended J’s grave since then. During that time, he added several items to the site that do not conform to the regulations for graveyards.

The application specifies that the headstone would include colours associated with the Autism Society, as well as incorporate kerbs around the grave. The charity’s logo depicts interweaving strands of orange, red, and shades of green.

The headstone would be inscribed “Ride your white horses, sweet boy, on Fenella’s golden sands to the stars in the sky,” referring to Fenella Beach on the Isle of Man.

In his judgment, dated 25 January 2023, Chancellor Connell stated that he had “absolutely no difficulty in agreeing” to the proposed kerbs for the grave, but expressed concern that “the tranquillity of the location should not be disturbed by the introduction of any further unauthorised items”.

The regulations do not permit monuments in stone of the colour requested, but Chancellor Connell said that the particular circumstances meant that there was a “compelling reason” for authorising them in this case, and agreed to issue a faculty.

“I would hope that this will afford the family some relief in their tragic loss,” he wrote.

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