‘Distraught and speechless’: Council takes 3 years to scatter ashes of man’s aunt

A man was told by a council last week that the cremated remains of his aunt have not been scattered nearly four years after her death.

Gerald Finn, 54, who lives in Liverpool, received the letter from Lambeth council last week.

His aunt, Hilda Mace, who lived in Earlsfield, Wandsworth, passed away in November 2019.

In her will, Mrs Mace had organised for Lambeth crematorium services to bury her ashes next to her husband in Lambeth.

Mr Finn said: “I got an email the other day to say Lambeth crematorium staff were just storing my aunt’s remains.

“I was totally distraught and totally speechless – I was speechless for about an hour after I read the email and had to re-read it three or four times. 

“When I called to find out more they seemed very cavalier as if this happens on a regular basis.

“It’s like they’re working in a sweet shop – it means nothing.”

A spokesman from Lambeth council said the process was “disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic”.

Mr Finn said: “If there is a backlog because of Covid there must be so many people going to the place they believe their loved one is buried and their family member isn’t there.

“That’s the sad part.

“It’s humiliating and it’s an insult to my family – there’s just an urn in a cupboard somewhere.”

The council apologised for the delayed response in the email to Mr Finn.

He said: “It doesn’t matter what they do now, it’s not going to make any difference at all.

“She wanted her ashes buried or scattered on or near to her husband’s grave – it was specific  and the council had it on their system.”

A Lambeth council spokesman said: “People using our services can have 100 per cent confidence in them. 

“In this instance the paperwork did not specify whether the scattering of ashes was to be witnessed or not, so we took no action until we could be sure that the wishes of the bereaved were respected.

“We ordinarily send up to three letters to clarify these details, but in this case the process was disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic and we have apologised for that.”

“We are pleased to say that the ashes have now been scattered.”

Pictured top: Hilda Mace (Picture: Gerald Finn)

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