A COUPLE went to their stillborn baby’s funeral only to find the ceremony had taken place without them.
Matthew Small and Michelle Mahoney said they arrived 10 minutes late for daughter Angel’s burial at Thornhill Crematorium to find a minister had already presided over her interment and left the graveside.
Distraught dad Matthew, 25, of Gabalfa, Cardiff, choked back tears as he described the couple’s double heartache. They learned Angel had died inside the womb when Michelle had a 32-week scan.
The family travelled to the graveyard in taxis on Thursday to meet the car containing Angel’s coffin.
But Matthew, who has two other daughters, aged seven and five, with Michelle, 24, said they were robbed of the chance to grieve.
“Not being able to properly say goodbye to our daughter was a kick in the teeth,” said the former customer service adviser.
“I spoke to the undertakers last week. They said we had to meet them at 9.30am for the service. We got there around 9.40am. They said the minister had gone and they were filling the hole in.
“They went ahead without us, thinking we weren’t going to turn up. They had my phone number; they could have called to check. We were late because of traffic problems caused by the bad weather.
“It was just a hill of earth by the time we got there. The funeral director apologised and managed to get the minister back to say a few words.”
Funeral director D Caesar Jones, of Whitchurch, Cardiff, was contracted by UHW to carry out the funeral.
A spokesman for Dignity Plc, which owns the firm, said: “We contacted the family out of courtesy to pass on our condolences and to inform the parents of the time and date of the funeral.
“Because the funeral has been arranged by UHW, most parents choose not to attend.
“We informed Mr Small of the time of the funeral, but the couple did not inform us that they wished to attend.
“The funeral was scheduled for 9.30am and our funeral director and his team met the minister at the cemetery. We waited until 9.40am for Mr Small and Miss Mahoney but had to proceed with the service as the minister had another funeral to officiate at and the couple had given us no indication that they would be there.
“At 10.30am we received a call from the cemetery office saying Mr Small and Miss Mahoney had arrived but by this time the service had taken place. When the minister finished his service at the crematorium he tried to help the couple by providing another service.
“We are deeply sorry to hear of the death of any child but believe we did everything possible to involve the family in the service.”
A spokeswoman for Cardiff council, which runs Thornhill Crematorium, said: “Cardiff Council Bereavement Services was advised to proceed with the burial by the funeral director.
“Bereavement Services does not have any contact with the families and relies on instructions provided by the funeral director. We are of course very sorry for the distress that this has caused to the family of baby Angel Mahoney-Small.”