Father’s heartache at removal of deceased daughter’s memorial bench


A furious father took flowers from his daughter Tracey’s wedding to her deceased sister’s memorial only to find it was going to be destroyed.

Karen Whelan

Patrick Whelan was still celebrating when he took some wedding flowers to his daughter Karen’s memorial bench on Sunday, October 7 at Honor Oak Crematorium.

The celebrations came to an end when Mr Whelan found a note pinned to the bench saying if he didn’t remove it then he it would be binned.

He rang the Southwark cemetery immediately and was told he had to remove the bench because the crematorium is starting to renovate the lots.

Mr Whelan was also told that the 10-year tenure of the memorial was up, despite the bench being there for 12 years.

His daughter Karen died from a brain haemorrhage in 2006 at age 37.

Mr Whelan claims that he was not told anything about a tenure when he bought the £800 bench.

He also claims that the office doesn’t have any of the paperwork to prove he has signed any agreements.

Mr Whelan was told he should buy a bench because it could stay there for as long as he wanted it to after losing his daughter.

Karen’s bench had to be moved a few years ago and during this time there was still no mention of any tenure.

Mr Whelan said that there were plenty of benches that were much older than Karen’s.

Mr Whelan has the bench as home but he said it just didn’t feel the same because other deceased family members’ ashes were scattered around Karen’s bench.

He said: “Every time we visited we felt they were there with us, now I have the bench at home but the ashes and the memories are still there.”

He added: “It’s just disgraceful what they’re doing. “The complete idiots that make these decisions should be ashamed of themselves.”

When collecting the bench, Mr Whelan’s lock for it had been removed and he is still waiting for a replacement. Nearly all of the benches are being removed which has left nowhere for people visiting the deceased or attending funerals to sit down.

Mr Whelan said: “It’s disgusting it’s just so bare now.” Councillor Richard Livingstone, cabinet member for environment, transport management and air quality, said: “We are very sorry for Mr Whelan and his family’s distress.

“Work is ongoing to improve Honor Oak Crematorium and create new burial and memorial space for the future, including a new, dedicated peace garden for babies and children’s memorials as well as creating a more pleasant, peaceful and well-maintained site for families.

Last week we revealed a distraught mum had criticised town hall chiefs for removing a bench dedicated to her father.

Catherine Erskine, 54, had a memorial bench placed in Honor Oak Crematorium after her father, Gerald Erskine, died 14 years ago.

She was horrified when her daughter, Carly Erskine, who visits the bench regularly, called up to say it had been removed and a note Was left in its place.

Catherine, of Buckthorne Road, Crofton Park, said: “The council doesn’t realise the absolute heartache they have put us through.”

Councillor Richard Livingstone said: “We are very aware that this work can have an impact on people who visit the memorials of loved ones in this part of the crematorium and we ensured notices advising of the changes and how to contact us about them were in the area from April this year.

“As we didn’t have contact details for the family, a further notice was placed on Cathy’s bench in August.”

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