Victory for people power as memory book returns to Sunderland Crematorium

Linda Johnson
Linda Johnson
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GRIEVING families are overjoyed after a book of heartfelt memories has been returned to Sunderland’s crematorium.

Linda Johnson told the Echo of her distress after finding Sunderland City Council workers had taken away the book, which she had been using to write messages to her mum Elizabeth Ann, since she died eight years ago, and dad Robert, who passed away shortly before Christmas, aged 88.

Council bosses said it was never intended to be a book of remembrance and pointed out that there is an official book in place for people to write into – with fees starting at £47 and going up to £263.

Scores of angry families left comments on the Echo’s website and our Facebook page saying they too had used the book for years and demanded it be put back.

Today the authority said the book has now been returned.

Coun Michael Mordey, portfolio holder for city services, said: “We always listen to people’s concerns and do our best to work together to address them.

“We will replace the informal comments book so people can record their visits and leave messages when they visit the hall of remembrance, if they choose to do so.

“We will keep this alongside the formal book of remembrance, which will remain the official means of remembering their loved ones.”

Families welcomed the news.

Linda, 64, of Eden Vale, said: “I’m just elated because it affects so many people.

“I’ve had so much positive feedback from people. My cousin said when she found the book had gone that she actually started to cry.

“She got such comfort from going up there. The council don’t realise what great comfort you get from just being able to write a few words.

“I’ve over the moon it is back and so grateful to everyone involved with it.”

Remy Barrios Smith, of Sunderland, also used the book regularly and recently went to the crematorium with husband Kevin to mark the eighth anniversary of his dad Joe’s death.

She said they were looking forward to writing messages to their loved ones again. “Thank you to the council for listening and making the effort to bring it back,” she added.