405 sets of cremated remains have been left unclaimed at Southampton funeral director B. Matthews. The company, which has conducted funerals in the city for over 50 years, has launched an appeal to local people. Relatives are asked to collect the remains of their loved ones. Some of the ashes have actually been in the team’s care for 40 years or more, with the oldest set dating back to 1969.
‘After a funeral, the ashes are kept at one of our branches until family members are ready to collect them. However, we understand that there are many reasons why families may choose to leave the ashes in our care. For some, collecting them is too painful, in some cases it can be down to a breakdown in family communications on who will collect the remains, while others simply need more time to decide what to do with them’, said Victoria Nethercott, funeral manager at B. Matthews.
The National Association of Funeral Directors has specific guidelines in place for unclaimed ashes, and recommends its members store them for a minimum of five years.
‘Having already tried to contact the next of kin, and rigorously searched for wider family members, we’ve decided to take a different course of action by launching a public appeal for the next generation of family members to come forward’.
‘We’re keen to stress that this appeal isn’t related to recently bereaved families or those who have asked us to keep ashes on their behalf for a specific reason. This is about ashes that have been left unclaimed for a considerable amount of time’.
Established in 1959, B. Matthews recognise the importance of being at the heart of the local community, and that their responsibilities extend beyond the immediate needs of arranging a funeral and supporting the bereaved at an emotional time in their life.
‘We have been entrusted by families to care for these ashes in some cases for almost four decades. We feel is it our responsibility to now try and reunite these families with the cremated remains of their loved ones as we believe it’s only right that every individual is given the opportunity of a peaceful final resting place’, Victoria concluded.
Those who believe that the unclaimed ashes of a relative may be currently held by B. Matthews should call 02380 447 965to speak to a member of the team or visit one of the funeral directors’ three branches in Woolston, Shirley or Park Gate.