Wrong ashes scattered in crematorium cover-up
PUBLISHED: 14:33 19 January 2017 | UPDATED: 15:41 19 January 2017
Weston-super-Mare Crematorium staff tricked a grieving family into believing they were witnessing their loved-one's ashes being scattered, when in fact the remains of a complete stranger were being used in a bid to cover up earlier mistakes.
Dignity Funerals – which runs the crematorium in Ebdon Road – has apologised following a blunder at the site which saw its staff lie to a mourning family to make them believe the ashes of a stranger were the cremated remains of their relative.
The firm told the Mercury it is treating the incident ‘very seriously’ and a full investigation is underway, with disciplinary action a possibility for all of the staff involved.
However, that is likely to be little consolation to the family involved, who can never get back the opportunity to say goodbye to their loved-one.
The family had requested half of the ashes be returned to them, via their funeral director, while the other half would be kept at the crematorium ready to be scattered in front of them.
Crematorium staff correctly returned half of the person’s ashes, but the second half of their remains were wrongly scattered early, in an un-witnessed ceremony.
Instead of admitting their mistake at this point, staff attempted to cover up the incident by using a woman’s ashes – which had been scheduled for an un-witnessed scattering – in front of the family, duping them into believing they were the cremated remains of their loved-one.
The staff involved in the incident eventually admitted what they had done when a senior manager returned from annual leave.
The manager immediately called the family to explain what had happened and Dignity’s spokesman told the Mercury the family will be informed of the investigation’s findings.
They added: “We deeply regret the distress caused to this family and our manager immediately apologised to them once staff admitted what happened.
“A thorough investigation is being held to understand why fully-trained, experienced members of staff failed to follow the established, robust procedures we have in place.”
Dignity took over the running of the crematorium in 2010, when North Somerset Council put the service out to tender.
Weston Crematorium is now one of the most expensive in the entire country, charging £947 per service – £440 more than it did when it was run by the council in 2010.
The council refused to comment on its satisfaction levels with Dignity, but said it is aware an investigation is ongoing into this incident.
* For the full story pick up a copy of the Mercury today (Thursday).