Disgust as Houghton Regis woman’s grave ignored by undertakers

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A grieving daughter from Houghton Regis has spoken of her disgust at finding her mum’s grave left open two weeks after her interment ceremony.

Ticey Parsons, 52, was so distraught after finding mum Jeanette’s Duggan’s neglected open grave at The Vale Crematorium in Luton that she pulled the casket containing her mother’s ashes out herself and took it home.

Ticey’s sister Theresa who died of epilepsy as a teenager in 1971 is also buried in the family plot and it was 83-year-old mum Jeanette’s wish to be buried alongside her.

“Now I’m going to have to go through the pain of saying goodbye all over again”, said Ticey.

Great grandmother Jeanette (formerly Oakley) died in October last year and lived for many years at Elm Park Close and Evans Close in Houghton Regis.

Her interment ceremony on October 28 was an emotional day for her family and it was accompanied by standard bearers from the British Legion – for whom Mrs Duggan had been a keen fundraiser.

Ticey said: “We were told by people at the Vale Crematorium that once the family had moved away from the grave, they would fill it.”

Two weeks later, on Saturday, November 12, Ticey returned to place poppies on her mum’s grave.

She said: “Once I arrived, I saw they hadn’t filled the grave and my mum’s casket was on show. I took it out myself and put it in my shoulder bag.

“I can’t put into words how broken I was. We had such a lovely send-off for my mum with the British Legion and they took all that away.

“I feel absolutely disgusted and hurt. Now, I’ve got to go through the upset of saying goodbye to my mum all over again. They’ve let myself and my family down.”

Ticey said she was told by managers at the Vale that an undertaker had an accident on site and they were short-staffed. She met with managers again on Saturday for an explanation.

She added: “If it was a day late, yes, but not two weeks!

“It only takes some young lad who thinks it’s funny to take it out the grave and I think if we didn’t live locally, how long would it have been left like that? I actually said that to them.”

A Luton Borough Council spokesman said: “The council has offered an immediate and unreserved apology to the Oakley family for our failure to inter Mrs Duggan’s ashes properly.

“We are very sorry, we fully appreciate the distress our actions caused and have begun an immediate internal investigation into to how this happened and to make sure it cannot do so again.

“Officers have met with the Oakley family, and re-internment of the casket has been re-arranged. All costs to the family will reimbursed in full and a donation made to charity.”

Ticey added: “I wouldn’t want anyobody else to have to go through that.”