Saturday, 13 August 2022

Apology for another mistake

THE body of a man was exhumed and reburied after another error by Henley Town Council was revealed in October.

Janine Stevens told of her anger after finding her late husband Andrew’s coffin being “squashed” in between two other graves at Fairmile Cemetery. She realised that he had been buried incorrectly only on the day of his funeral.

The council apologised and agreed to pay to have Mr Stevens’s body exhumed and reburied, which happened in November.

Mr Stevens, a former Royal Marine, passed away on June 14 last year, aged 53. He had been diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2010.

His wife, who lives in Greys Road, Henley, told the Henley Standard in October: “I asked if I could choose the site where my husband would be buried but I was told I couldn’t. The sites are dug up on the morning of the funeral and I was horrified when I was surrounded by my family and friends to see him being squashed between two graves, presumably to make up the allotted numbers of that line.”

She complained to Nicci Taylor, the council’s cemetery manager, who admitted Mr Stevens had been buried in the wrong place.

Mrs Stevens then agreed with town clerk Janet Wheeler that her husband’s body could be exhumed and reburied, which requires special permission from the Ministry of Justice and the Diocese of Oxford.

However, the process took another four months until Mrs Stevens complained to Mayor Julian Brookes, giving him an ultimatum that she would go public.

Mrs Wheeler gave her “unreserved apologies” on behalf of the town council and its staff.

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