THE family of Marjorie Clague has been left devastated after an “admin error” led to crematorium staff spreading her ashes in the wrong place.
Mrs Clague’s family was awaiting a private committal ceremony at Distington Hall Crematorium last Friday to carry out her final wish of having her ashes buried alongside those of her late husband, William.
But an hour before the service was due to start, the family received a call from crematorium staff to say that Mrs Clague’s ashes had already been scattered four days earlier, with no family members present, and 400 yards away from Mr Clague’s.
The family is now seeking legal advice, while the owners of the crematorium, Copeland Borough Council, has extended its “unreserved apologies”.
“Our family is absolutely distraught at what has happened,” a relative told The Whitehaven News. “Marjorie’s dying wishes were to have her ashes spread alongside William’s.
“She was 93 when she died [on January 14] but was aware enough to know what arrangements she wanted after she died.
“We had been asked to attend the crematorium gardens before the service to identify the precise area where William’s ashes were buried only last year, so they could lift a small patch of turf and bury Marjorie’s ashes in the same place. We couldn’t believe it when we got the call to say her ashes had already been spread due to an admin error – and around 400 yards away from where they should have been.
“They apologised and offered us a free entry into the crematorium’s remembrance book, but the damage is done.
“Marjorie and William had been together for 70 years and didn’t want to be apart.”
The couple lived at Frazer Street in Workington. Mr Clague, who died in January last year, worked for almost 40 years as an mace bearer to the mayors of Workington.
Pat Graham, Copeland’s director for people and places, said: “We know this error must have been extremely upsetting for Mrs Clague’s family. We apologise unreservedly for the understandable distress it has caused them at an already difficult time. Officers have already spoken with the family and I myself will be meeting with them this week to discuss the matter further.”