ELDERLY members of a Women's Institute (WI) were trapped behind bars after a heritage cemetery walk took a turn for the worse.

Calcot Evening WI embarked on a tour of Cemetery Junction at 7pm May 18.

After an hour and a half of walking around the graveyard's grounds viewing Common Wealth War Graves, members began to make their way to the exit.

“At 8.30pm two people said they had to leave,” said Lee Waite, President of the group.

“A couple of minutes later and one of them phoned me. She said 'Did you know the gate is locked?'

“'No,' I said, 'I did not know that the gate is locked.'”

Immediately realising their predicament, the 18 strong group of 50 to 70 year-olds rushed down to the entrance only to find they were stuck inside.

“We couldn't even walk out the side gate and it was absolutely chucking it down,”said Mrs Waite, who lives in Tilehurst.

“Clearly a security guard had come in and chained the gates shut. I would have thought when he saw four cars parked he would have checked to see if anyone was inside.

“People aren't going to park in there and then go to the pub.”

A member of the group called the police who contacted the cemetery's security team and, after a 45 minute wait in the cold and wet, the Calcot Evening WI were released.

A spokesman from Reading Borough Council, who look after the Cemetery, said: “We were sorry to hear that this group were locked in for a period of around half an hour, and for the obvious distress caused.

  “In the summer months we close the gates every evening at 8pm in response to public complaints about anti-social behaviour, and they reopen at 8am. Security will always drive around to check if there is anyone in the cemetery before they close the gates, but on this occasion the group were missed.

“Closure times are advertised online and we are additionally looking into placing a notice prominently at the entrance of the Old Cemetery to alert visitors.

  “We have already apologised to the group organiser directly who appreciated security returning to the site promptly.”