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Widow’s distress after wedding ring is lost in cremation

Christine McLean holding a photograph of her with her late husband Malcolm. Picture by Frank Reid
Christine McLean holding a photograph of her with her late husband Malcolm. Picture by Frank Reid

A widow has spoken of her distress after she was told funeral directors failed to retrieve her late husband’s wedding ring before he was cremated.

Heartbroken Christine McLean had asked if Malcolm’s ring could be kept so that she could pass it on to their son Ian, 39.

Malcolm McLean, who died on Good Friday aged 66. Picture by Frank Reid

Malcolm McLean, who died on Good Friday aged 66. Picture by Frank Reid

Ice cream van man Malcolm, 66, who had ran Eddie’s Ices, died on Good Friday, two months after he was diagnosed with cancer.

Christine, 71, from Southwick, had listed the ring as something to keep when she sat down with TP Bradbury to plan the pre-paid funeral for Malcolm, held at Sunderland Crematorium more than a fortnight after he died.

Business boss George Bradbury has confirmed it had failed to remove the ring following a request and has said a member of staff has been disciplined and later resigned.

Christine, who was told to ask for the item back on the day of the service, said: “I said ‘What about the ring?’ and I’d been told on the day of the funeral I’d get it back in a little purple heart-shaped bag, and there was that much going on in my mind.

I wanted the ring to be saved for Ian.

Christine McLean

“I asked if they had Malcolm’s ring but was told they had forgot to take it off.

“I’m absolutely fuming to be honest because I though the least they could have said was sorry.

“That was really galling, particularly because the bairn has lost out on what was his dad’s.

“I wanted the ring to be saved for Ian.”

Sunderland Crematorium. Picture by Frank Reid

Sunderland Crematorium. Picture by Frank Reid

In a statement, Mr Bradbury said he disagreed with the description given by Christine about their discussion on the day of Malcolm’s funeral, but said he understood they were facing a great deal of grief.

He said: “We have been dealing with the bereaved in and around Sunderland for nearly 135 years and over that time received very few complaints.

“I can however confirm that a customer recently did request the removal of a ring from their loved one which was not actioned.

“The customer was informed of this by myself and not in the harsh way described.

Funeral directors TP Bradbury. Picture by Frank Reid

Funeral directors TP Bradbury. Picture by Frank Reid

“We even tried to action this at the crematorium and were informed that the coffin had already been placed in the cremator.

“I personally investigated this as I was involved and a member of staff was disciplined shortly afterwards, and has subsequently resigned.

“I was unable to inform the customer as they never returned my phone calls, I spoke to a family friend at the customer’s address to ask for the customer to ring me back.”