Empty grave revelations grow

A PENSIONER who lost two loved ones says, like other grief-stricken relatives, she has been unknowingly leaving flowers on an empty plot.

A PENSIONER who lost two loved ones says, like other grief-stricken relatives, she has been unknowingly leaving flowers on an empty plot.

The Weston & Somerset Mercury reported last week how Margaret Dench and Fred Aspden had both been laying flowers on the headstones of relatives, believing that their ashes were buried underneath.

Now Anne Foord, of the Boulevard, says she has experienced a similar problem.

Anne told the Weston & Somerset Mercury her mother Margaret died in August 2005 and North Somerset Council kept the ashes.

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When her son Andy died in June 2006, aged 39, she asked that a double plot be made for both ashes to be buried side by side. After the headstone was laid she assumed both ashes were underneath it, but in November, more than 16 months after her son's death, Mrs Foord received a letter from North Somerset Council asking her to arrange the interment of both ashes.

She wrote back asking for them to be buried but says she never received a reply and now does not know if the ashes are in the ground.

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Anne, aged 63, said: "I said I didn't want to be present at the interment so after a few months I assumed the ashes had been buried, especially seeing as they had put the headstone down.

"It is just unbelievable that this has happened.

"I cannot explain how this made me feel. I was bereaved and I put my faith in the people who are committed to caring for my loved ones. If you lose trust in these people where do you go?"

A council spokesman said: "The families in the articles have said they assumed ashes were buried after a certain amount of time. Assume is the key word. Legally, without their authority we are not allowed to inter the ashes.

"The council has a policy of only keeping ashes for three months. If we hadn't heard anything we used to contact families after three months to ask them what they would like doing with the ashes but we were criticised for contacting them too early. Now we are being criticised for leaving it too late.

"On the back of these incidents we are now looking at reviewing our policy and we are contacting funeral directors to make sure families know exactly what happens after cremation.

"Sometimes they forget which forms they have signed while they are grieving, which is perfectly understandable.

"If family members want to be present at the interment, it is up to them to contact us and arrange an appointment.

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