Monday, 16 July 2018

Scientist’s body exhumed

THE body of a leading scientist has been exhumed then reburied at a cost of up to £2,000 to Goring

THE body of a leading scientist has been exhumed then reburied at a cost of up to £2,000 to Goring Parish Council.

Sir Edgar Mitchell CBE, formerly of Pot Kiln Lane, Woodcote, was laid to rest at Whitehill burial ground, off Reading Road, Goring, when he died in 2002.

He and his second wife Lady Margaret Mitchell had stated that they wished to be buried there together when she passed away.

But when she died in 2013 the council, which owns the cemetery, found Sir Edgar’s plot had not been dug deep enough for a second coffin.The council buried Lady Mitchell in a new grave and then sought permission from the Church of England and South Oxfordshire District Council to exhume Sir Edgar and reinter him alongside his wife.

The work was carried out earlier this month and overseen by a relative.

The council tried to investigate who was at fault for the error but could not find enough information so decided to meet the cost. As well as paying staff and equipment, it had to pay the church £540 for permission to disturb consecrated land.

A district council officer also attended to ensure the correct hygiene procedures were followed.

The parish council may have to pay for this too so has set aside up to £2,000.

Parish clerk Peter Clegg said: “We didn’t know anything was wrong until we tried to dig the grave. Our digger went to prepare the ground as usual but then he rang us up saying, ‘sorry, but there’s a problem’.

“It has taken us a year to sort it all out and we had no idea how much we would have to pay the church. It was quite a complex process — the grave had to be screened from all sides, including from the air.”

Sir Edgar, who was often known by his middle name William or as Bill, was a physics professor at Oxford and Reading universities.

He served as deputy vice-chancellor at Reading and was president of the European nuclear research organisation CERN in 1991.

He pioneered a process called neutron scattering, which allows scientists to investigate the properties of different materials.

He was survived by his only son from his first marriage.

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