A funeral director today gave families a chance to collect the ashes of their loved ones – before the remains of more than 150 bodies are scattered on their behalf.
Urns containing the remains of the many bodies have been stacking up over the years at William H Painter branches in Birmingham, West Midlands, as families fail to collect them after cremation.
The funeral directors, which have been operating for more than 100 years, even have some remains dating back to the 1950s – but now hope to reunite some of the deceased with their loved ones.
Funeral director Phil Painter said: ‘After a funeral, the ashes are kept at one of our branches until family members are ready to collect them.
However, we understand that there are many reasons why families may choose to keep the ashes in our care. For some, collecting them is too painful.
‘Others simply need more time to decide what to do with them. With so many uncollected after such a considerable amount of time, we decided to launch the appeal.
‘We hope it will encourage families to come forward and visit one of our branches if they have specific wishes for the unclaimed ashes or would like to talk to a member of our team about the options available.
‘We’re keen to stress that this isn’t about recently bereaved families or those who have asked us to keep ashes on their behalf for a specific reason, perhaps until they, too, die.
‘This is about ashes that have been left unclaimed for a considerable amount of time. We believe it’s only right that every individual is given the opportunity of a peaceful final resting place.
‘We believe it’s only right that every individual is given the opportunity of a peaceful final resting place’
Phil Painter, funeral director
‘So for those that have already been in our care for more than five years and remain unclaimed following this appeal, our team will hold a special service and scatter each set of ashes in a local garden of remembrance.’
The National Association of Funeral Directors has specific guidelines in place for unclaimed ashes, and recommends its members store them for a minimum of five years.
Mr Painter added: ‘Having done this and rigorously searched for family members, the team at William H Painter decided to take a different course of action by launching the appeal.’