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‘Clerical’ error causes heartache

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A grieving woman has been left distraught after her dead mother’s jewellery was cremated against her wishes.

Ten years ago Joanna Jones accompanied her mother, Pat, of St Mary’s Street, Stamford, to RJ Scholes Funeral Services in Stamford, to create and pay for a funeral plan.

That was on January 19, 2009, and on January 18 this year Pat sadly passed away at the age of 91.

Pat was a well-known face in Stamford. As well as living in the town, she worked at many salons and was a regular parishioner at St Augustine’s church. Joanna said her mum was “popular and well-loved”.

Joanna said: “I can always remember mum with jewellery on – two rings on the ring finger of her left hand. When we set-up the funeral plan we were both adamant we wanted mum’s rings removing before she was cremated, and the original arrangements had this expressly stated in the paperwork.”

Following her mother’s death, Joanna visited RJ Scholes’ office on January 24 this year and filled in more paperwork, again expressing her wish for her mother’s jewellery to be removed and returned to the family before the cremation.

Joanna, of Celta Road, Peterborough, said: “I was in touch with the funeral directors after mum died and called them nine times before her funeral, including the day before she was cremated.

“Each time I was assured that the jewellery would be removed.

“Then after the cremation I received a call from RJ Scholes saying they ‘thought’ the rings had gone with mum.

“I just broke down. How could that happen? We’d told them so many times and had it in black and white on the paperwork.

“They admitted it was their fault, blaming a ‘clerical error’.

“The whole incident has caused me a lot of trauma, hurt and upset.

“I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia four years ago and suffer with anxiety and depression, and this just makes my symptoms a whole lot worse. It’s having a massive impact on my life.”

Joanna said the rings were the only physical reminder she would have had of her beloved mum.

She said: “I just can’t understand how this has happened – I just want my mum’s rings back.

“My mum had nothing. She worked hard all her life but she had no property. The rings were the only inheritance I had. And they were cremated. It’s not about the money, the rings are irreplaceable. It’s about acknowledging the anguish and hurt this has caused me.”

A spokesman for RJ Scholes said: “We deeply regret the upset that this issue has caused Miss Jones and her family and have sincerely apologised for what has happened.

“This was a very rare and isolated incident and we have been working closely with the family to ensure we can reach a resolution that they are happy with.

“This was an issue related to human error and an investigation in relation to what happened is currently ongoing.

“We are focussed on every aspect of care for the families we serve and while our homes already have a strict process in place for arranging funerals we are ensuring that these robust procedures are reinforced in order to reduce the possibility of an issue such as this happening again.”


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