‘Sheer incompetence’ at crematorium causes family to miss funeral

Weston-super-Mare's Crematorium.

Weston-super-Mare's Crematorium. - Credit: Archant

A family have spoken of the ‘sheer incompetence’ they experienced at a funeral.

Janice Phelan virtually attended the funeral of her husband, David Phelan, at Weston Crematorium.

Due to coronavirus, many friends and family who were shielding or unable to travel, would have been able to watch the service online through a webcast.

But many attendees missed almost the entire service due to ‘an administrative error’.

Janice exclusively told the Mercury: “The instructions were to log on to the webcast and three or four minutes before the funeral service, it would go live. I later learned five minutes into the service, people were worrying because the webcast wasn’t beginning.

“Ten minutes into the service, my goddaughter was phoning the funeral director to see if there had been a delay to the funeral or to ask if there was a fault with the weblink.

“The funeral director also couldn’t get the link to upload so they said they would phone the crematorium.

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“After 17 minutes the weblink suddenly flickered into life, showing a man speaking some final words and people filing out past the coffin. The entire service had been missed, this was not a technical fault, someone had just forgotten to start the recording.

“We have nothing but praise for Groves Funeral Directors and their kindness and professionalism on the day.”

Funeral services at the cemetery, in Ebdon Road, are delivered by Dignity, which operates the site on behalf of North Somerset Council.

Janice added: “A funeral can never be repeated. Being able to pay your last respects gives you closure.

“To have that opportunity denied by sheer incompetence is completely unacceptable.

“We were also appalled to later learn that this isn’t a single incident, but that other careless mistakes for people’s funerals have been made before.

“During the stress of a global pandemic, for people unable to be with friends and family on the day of a funeral, the distress that they suffered was absolutely unforgivable.

“I sincerely hope that by raising this issue publicly, this will never happen to another grieving family.”

Steve Gant, crematoria director of The Crematorium & Memorial Group, which is part of Dignity, said: “We are extremely sorry for the distress that the failed webcast has caused.

“We have apologised to the family in person and explained that this was due to an administrative error.

“To ensure that this incident is not repeated, we have reviewed and improved our processes to ensure that all colleagues understand the family’s wishes.”