Rossendale Free Press

Funeral distress as coffin mishap left body exposed

- AMY FENTON freepressn­ @RossFreePr­ess

AFAMILY were reportedly left distressed after the straps being used to lower their loved one’s coffin into a grave snapped and their uncle’s remains were exposed.

Rossendale and Darwen MP Jake Berry spoke about the incident, which happened on January 22 of this year, in Parliament yesterday as part of a debate on regulation of funeral directors.

Mr Berry said that the incident occurred at Darwen Cemetery.

Mr Berry said: “The incident was caused by the snapping of the straps used to lower the coffin into the grave. After the straps snapped at the mouth of the grave, the coffin fell more than eight feet into the open grave, resulting in the exposure of the remains of the

deceased. Understand­ably, many family members and other mourners immediatel­y left the funeral.

“The family had been led to believe by KC Funeral Services that enough members of staff would be in attendance to assist at the graveside, but the family did not believe that was the case. They felt, understand­ably, very distressed about the situation.”

The family later complained to their MP about the funeral directors, Darwen-based KC Funeral Services, as they believed that “even if they had not snapped, the straps used to lower the coffin into the grave were not long enough”.

However, a spokespers­on for the company responsibl­e said the details provided by Jake Berry were ‘inaccurate’

and that they were disappoint­ed he had divulged the informatio­n in a public debate.

They declined to provide a further statement.

“In fact, if they had had to lower the coffin into the grave themselves, because of the lack of assistance from the funeral directors, they would have ended up lying on their stomachs at the graveside, lowering the coffin to the floor,” Mr Berry added. “It was a three-person grave, so it was very deep, and my deceased constituen­t was the first person to be interred.

“This was an appalling incident, and I pay tribute to Father Brian, who is a well-respected and widely liked parish priest based at St Joseph’s and St Edward’s in Darwen. He assisted the family, arranged for the majority of them to go home, sent away the mourners who had come to pay their last respects, and organised the removal of the deceased’s body from the grave, which had to be undertaken by cemetery workers and the remaining family members.

“The body was then returned to the funeral directors and another coffin was sought. The body was cleaned, having been at the bottom of the grave, and a team of pallbearer­s completed the burial the following day, which was Saturday

23 January.

“The incident was exceptiona­lly traumatic for the family, who were already grieving the loss of a wellloved family member.

“Following the incident, they went back to see Emma Childerley at KC Funeral Services on 28 January, in order to ask her some questions about the normal operating practices of her business.

“They were made aware at the meeting that KC Funeral Services was not a member of the National Associatio­n of Funeral Directors or the National Society of Allied and Independen­t Funeral Directors.

“She confirmed to the family – it was the first time they had heard it, and I must admit that it was the first time I had heard it – that both registrati­on schemes are voluntary.

“Some funeral directors, including the one I have mentioned, do not join such schemes, largely because of the cost burden of doing so.”

In light of the incident Mr Berry said he wants “to address the gap in the regulation­s that enables some providers to operate with limited or no regulation”.

“The regulation­s do not enable families who have suffered in this way, or who have any other grievance, to pursue the funeral directors through a profession­al body,” he added.

A spokespers­on for KC Funeral Services, said: “The informatio­n contained within this debate are holy (sic) inaccurate and I’m very disappoint­ed to learn that Jake Berry would go ahead and divulge this informatio­n without speaking with me first if not to at least learn my side of the story.

“I am seeking further advice regarding this. I am not prepared to make any further comments until I have sought further legal advice.”

 ?? ?? ●●MP Jake Berry (inset) revealed the incident in Parliament as he called for more regulation on funeral directors
●●MP Jake Berry (inset) revealed the incident in Parliament as he called for more regulation on funeral directors

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