Grieving daughter given wrong ashes to scatter

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Grieving daughter given wrong ashes to scatter

BBC Jackie BarnesBBC

Jackie Barnes received a letter confirming her mother’s ashes were found

A grieving daughter has been told her mother’s ashes were found during a police search at a funeral parlour, months after she thought she had scattered them.

Jackie Barnes from Dumbarton received a letter from Argyll and Bute council confirming the ashes were recovered during a recent search of A Milne Funeral Directors’ Springburn branch.

Ms Barton scattered the ashes she believed were her mother’s, alongside her father’s in January.

The funeral directors are being investigated by Police Scotland over allegations of financial mismanagement and issues with the return of ashes.

Jackie Barnes, 57, received a letter on Wednesday confirming her mother Margaret Rennie’s ashes were recovered by Police Scotland and returned to Cardross Crematorium, where she was cremated on 3 December 2021.

Ms Barnes told BBC Scotland News: “I got the letter and I kept reading it, because I couldn’t believe it.

“I thought that can’t be my mum, I’ve scattered my mum’s ashes with my dad. That was my dad’s wishes. He said I want me and your mum scattered together.”

Her mother died on 24 November 2021, but it was May 2022 before the undertaker said she could collect the ashes. Her father died on 24 January this year.

She scattered what she believed to be the remains of both her parents within the garden of remembrance at Cardross Crematorium shortly after.

“It’s like grieving my mum all over again, it is as if I’ve just lost her again,” she continued.

“People are never going to get their mums, their dads, their children back.

“I’m lucky I’m going to get my mum back but the person I’ve scattered, nobody will know who that is and we’ll never find out.”

Margaret Rennie

Margaret Rennie died in 2021

Ms Barnes’ husband, Danny, also passed away in December 2020, the year prior to her mum.

She said she now has concerns over the authenticity of his ashes.

“I didn’t suspect anything, I just assumed that was my mum and that was my husband but now I’m having really bad doubts because of the way they came,” she continued.

Ms Barnes added both her husband’s and mother’s ashes came in a similar container marked with just a white sticky label, while her father’s which were collected directly from the crematorium came in a better container and were clearly marked.

“In the back of my head I’m thinking I’ve got someone else. It’s horrendous, you can’t write it.”

Ms Barnes said she has considered going through the container to look for fragments of DNA to have them checked.

A Milne funeral directors

The company’s Springburn branch was still registered as operating in March.

The issue was raised by Ms Barnes’ local MSP, Jackie Baillie, at Holyrood on Thursday.

Dame Jackie’s office said it been contacted by 30 families who were mis-sold funeral plans by the firm, as well as two who have been given the wrong ashes.

Anne Gibson from Manchester, previously told BBC Scotland News she was also given the wrong ashes by A Milne Funeral Directors.

Speaking during FMQs, Ms Baillie said: “Ashes of the deceased have knowingly been given to relatives, funeral plans have been mis-sold defrauding people of thousands of pounds.

“Whose ashes was she [Ms Barton] given, whose ashes did she scatter with her father’s?”

She called on the first minister to “act urgently” and speed up regulations to protect people from “rogue funeral directors”.

Legislation to introduce a code of practice for funeral directors was passed in Holyrood in January but will not be implemented until 2025.

First Minister John Swinney said the conduct of A Milne Funeral Directors was “reprehensible” and he would look “in detail” to see if regulations could be “accelerated”.

He said: “The overwhelming majority of funeral directors will operate with integrity and appropriateness at all times but we have to make sure there is protection in place for the public.”

Police Scotland confirmed an investigation into A Milne Funeral Directors is ongoing.

The company’s Dumbarton branch closed in 2023, while the Springburn branch was still registered as operating in March.

BBC Scotland News has contacted the firm for comment.

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