Family devastated by Co-op error at funeral service

Dorset Echo: Weymouth Crematorium, where Gloria Roper's funeral was held Weymouth Crematorium, where Gloria Roper's funeral was held

A FAMILY has told of their devastation after the wrong coffin was put out for cremation at a funeral service for their mum.

Michelle Blakesley, 47, said the blunder by Co-op Funeralcare of Weymouth was ‘heartless and condescending’.

The wrong coffin was placed in Weymouth Crematorium’s chapel during Gloria Roper’s funeral service.

Embarrassed staff ushered the funeral congregation outside and swapped the coffins before carrying on with the ceremony.

Former Bridport Hospital volunteer Gloria, who lived in the town, died in December aged 70.

Michelle, of Bridport, and her sister Beverley Webb, of Queensland, Australia, decided to speak out after watching a documentary, which exposed shocking practices by funeral companies.

They spoke of their devastation after learning the wrong coffin had been placed in Weymouth Crematorium.

White House B&B owner Michelle said: “I just couldn’t believe it. The one on the plinth at the front was white and I knew my mum’s was a dark wood colour.

“It got to the stage where people were at my own mother’s funeral and our family was trying to convince someone I didn’t even know that my mum wasn’t in the coffin they were about to cremate.

“They were so heartless and condescending. One of their staff tried to tell us we were wrong, insisting our grief was making us confused. We were distraught.

“Eventually, we convinced them they had the wrong person.”

Beverley and Michelle said the coffin mix-up has added to the grief and pain of losing their mother and was the worst of a string of blunders by Co-op.

They say the wrong dates of Gloria’s birth and death had been inscribed on her coffin plaque, staff demanded the family bring £500 cash to the funeral after they failed to process a credit card for payment of deposit and the family’s wish to have purple balloons at the funeral had to be scrapped after the Co-op claimed there was a ‘helium shortage’ in the UK.

They also say that memorial rings for the sisters, costing a total of £575, had the wrong date of birth for their mum engraved on them.

Beverley, 45, said the Co-op’s customer service was ‘heartless’.

She said: “They were money-driven from day one.

“They sold us a list of add-ons to the funeral package and bombarded us with texts. We even had to bring cash to the funeral.

“We’re not planning on letting this lie – I never want this to happen to anyone else’s family.”

£1,000 discount on the bill

THE sisters have received a £1,001.45 discount from their overall funeral bill of £5,551.85.

Co-op Funeralcare manager Steve Dobin offered a ‘sincere and unreserved’ apology and ordered an investigation into the funeral.

A spokesman for Co-operative Funeralcare said: “We are very sorry and have apologised to the family for any distress caused.

“A full investigation has taken place into why our policies and procedures were not followed and appropriate action has been taken.”

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