A grieving family has slammed a care home after staff allegedly threw their great-grandfather’s ashes in a skip when his widow died of coronavirus.
Samuel Dunnett’s relatives blasted Marnel Lodge in Basingstoke, Hampshire, after it is believed his remains were mistakenly chucked out when his wife Rita died.
Mrs Dunnett, 83, had his ashes in an urn she stored in her wardrobe and had wanted them scattered with her’s near where they first met.
But the widow, who died from coronavirus three months ago, will not get her final wish as the urn was believed to have been lobbed in a skip.
Her family noticed it was missing when her room at the care home was emptied without them knowing and her possession boxed up.
Marnel Lodge bosses then offered them £500 to donate to charity as an apology for losing the great-grandfather.
Rita Dunnett kept the urn containing her spouse of 55 years Samuel’s (pictured together) remains in her wardrobe
Her family noticed it was missing when her room at Marnel Lodge (pictured) in Basingstoke, Hampshire, was emptied without them knowing and her possession boxed up
Mrs Dunnett’s son-in-law Peter Brickell said: ‘It shows a complete lack of compassion for what her possessions were. It’s totally disrespectful.
‘It’s appalling that someone who did not know her could go into her room by themselves and throw out things that they had no right to do.’
Mr Brickell, married to Mr and Mrs Dunnett’s daughter Kelly, added: ‘She had set her own funeral plan up about four years ago.
‘She said she wanted both sets of ashes scattered together in the River Thames near Greenwich Park in London.
‘Because that is where she and Samuel did their courting. She has had her dying wish taken away from her. The ashes are irreplaceable.’
Her dying wish was that her ashes could be scattered with his, close to where they met. Pictured: A similar urn
Mrs Dunnett moved to the care home three years ago, five years after her husband died.
The great-grandmother who had underlying illnesses fell ill on January 17. She was taken to hospital and she tested positive for Covid-19.
She died three days later with the cause of death given as coronavirus and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart problems.
Father-of-three Mr Brickell added: ‘Straight away she called the home and notified the care home that she had died.
‘They said don’t worry her room would be locked up and it might be a long time before they could go in there to retrieve the positions.
‘The day she had moved in my wife took the ashes in the urn in and they went straight into the wardrobe and there they remained.
‘At no stage were we contacted again by the home until February 22.
‘We were phoned by the home and told all of Rita’s possessions from the room had been boxed up and cleared up and could we come and collect them.
‘We went up the following morning very surprised that we’d cleared the room without asking us to be present.’
Mrs Dunnett (pictured with her husband on their wedding day), 83, died from Covid-19 three months ago but the 30cm high, maroon urn was believed to have been chucked in a skip by mistake
Carpenter Mr Brickell, from Old Basing, continued: ‘They promptly brought out cardboard boxes.
‘We brought them home and my wife and one of my daughters realised there were lots of things missing, a Christmas hamper, a brand new bottle of perfume
‘When I came home from work I said what the ashes? My wife got on the phone to the manager and he left and went searching. We were quizzing him.’
Other items were also missing, including perfume and a Christmas hamper but the care home said they had been held due to Covid-19.
He added: ‘They told us they contacted relatives of people who had received boxes and questioned as to whether they got a box they shouldn’t have.’
The care home also asked for the skip to be searched but the urn was not found. An incentive – believed to be £600 – was offered for workers to hunt for it but to no avail.
Mr Brickell said: ‘We then had lots of conflict with the manager, he tried to say the urn was not on an inventory when she came in.
‘But it was their duty of care to look after her possessions.’ He escalated it with their head office and said he finally got an apology.
It was then that Barchester Healthcare – which runs the home – offered them £500.
A Barchester Healthcare spokesman said: ‘We are sorry for this loss during an already difficult time for the family.’ Pictured: Mrs Dunnett
In a letter regional director Duncan Edwards told the family: ‘I am incredibly sorry again that your late father-in-law’s ashes have gone missing.
‘Sadly little can be put in place for an irreplaceable item that is so important to you and your family, and for this I am very truly sorry.
‘There were evident shortfalls in our processes and communication with you and your family, and I do acknowledge that these items went missing whilst in our care.
‘I also do accept communication could most definitely have been improved. In light of this, I would like to offer you £500 to a charity of your choice as a gesture of goodwill.
‘I do acknowledge this will not make up for the sentimental value this holds for you and your family.
‘However, I do hope this gesture relays how truly sorry we are and for the distress this has caused.’
But Mr Brickell said the offer was an ‘insult’, added: ‘We thought they are taking the mickey out of us now.’
A Barchester Healthcare spokesman said: ‘We are sorry for this loss during an already difficult time for the family.
‘We have clear processes in place regarding the handling of personal possessions, which in this instance unfortunately fell short of our standards.
‘Staff have been working exceptionally hard and this was a mistake that should not have happened.
‘We have investigated thoroughly and spoken to those involved to ensure this does not happen again.’
Read More: DailyMail