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Carlisle council should say sorry for throwing away baby trinkets

Published by in English ·

A Carlisle city councillor is calling on the authority to apologise to a grieving mother after crematorium staff removed and binned tributes to her stillborn baby.

Willie Whalen, who represents Castle ward, was shocked to discover how his constituent Nicki Chandler, 22 – who lost baby Harvey last October – had been treated.

In a bid to make amends, he yesterday invited Nicki back to the council-run crematorium grounds, where her son has a special toadstool tribute, to lay some flowers.

And he is now demanding a meeting with acting chief executive Jason Gooding to raise his concerns about how such a sensitive situation has been handled by staff.

Nicki, of Priory Road, and partner Donny McDiarmid, 30, are still grieving the loss of Harvey and find regular visits to the crematorium grounds a comfort.

Having seen other families’ memorials, they placed several small trinkets – including a tiny teddy bear, candle, a love heart with a message on, a gnome and a windmill – under the toadstool and plaque.

But when Nicki went to visit the memorial on Tuesday she found they had vanished.

At first she thought they had been stolen. However the next day she went back to the crematorium to ask staff what had happened – only to be told they had been instructed to clear all items away.

She was directed to a wheelbarrow, where some of the items had been dumped. Nicki found the love heart but the other gifts had all been thrown away.

The council has since defended its actions, saying that to keep the wooded area – where ashes can be scattered – as natural as possible, trinkets like Nicki’s were not allowed. But Mr Whalen, a Labour councillor, labelled his authority’s actions as “wholly unacceptable and insensitive”.

He said: “As I see it the department should know better. They should have a lot more sensitivity towards people who are grieving.

“Throwing these things in a barrow is poor at best. People’s feelings and emotions should be given some sort of priority. This is not the way to do it.

“This kind of approach does damage to our communities. It is all about bureaucracy and is lacking any real humanity and understanding.

“At the very least there should be a written apology to this lady, who is obviously really incensed by it.

He added: “I do not want anyone in my ward, especially a grieving mother, to be put in this position. As a grandfather and practising Christian I just think it is appalling.”




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