Wrong man cremated in funeral firm 'mix-up'

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

A FUNERAL parlour yesterday admitted a mix-up which led to the body of a man being cremated instead of receiving the burial he had asked for.

Relatives of Alf Dawson, 87, who had wanted to be buried with his wife and son, said the mistake by Collyer and McBride, a firm of Birmingham undertakers, had left them in 'an absolute state of despair'.

Mr Dawson's sister, Irene, 80, who lived next door to him in Handsworth, Birmingham, said: 'The funeral directors came round and broke the news to me. It made me very ill and left the rest of his family shocked.'

Mr Dawson, who died in hospital 10 days ago, was due to be buried yesterday at a cemetery in Handsworth in the same grave as his wife, Dorothy, and son, John, who died of cancer, aged 19, nearly 40 years ago.

On Wednesday, funeral parlour staff preparing to take Mr Dawson's body to a wake at his home followed by a requiem mass at a local Catholic church spotted an identification tag which revealed the mix-up. They then realised that his body had been wrongly cremated on Monday in the presence of another man's relatives.

Jacqueline Timmins, 44, wife of the parlour's owner, said it had been 'a tragic mix-up' involving another family with a similar name. The second family's identity has not been released.

Mrs Timmins said: 'It has absolutely shaken me. I've been in the funeral business for 23 years and it's never happened before. If it had happened to member of my family, I would go wild about it.'