Grieving son blasts undertaker who ‘lost’ his dad’s body - forcing funeral to be postponed
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A grieving son has blasted a UK undertakers after they “lost” his dad’s body - forcing the funeral to be postponed. Leigh Blanning said his experience with L J Guyan has been “horrific”.
The 51-year-old enlisted the firm after dad John Blanning, 82, passed away in December 2022. But when it came to the day of the funeral Leigh was told the ceremony could not go ahead - because the hearse had broken down.
Devastated Leigh, from Bristol, had to tell mourners to go straight to the wake - meaning they couldn’t pay their proper respects. And, after L J Guyan launched a probe, it turned out it wasn’t that the hearse hadn’t broken down but that the late Mr Blanning’s body had been misplaced.
L J Guyan has apologised, but Leigh said it was the “most horrific experience” he’d ever had and he “doesn’t feel any justice has been done.”
“I feel that I’ve let my dad down and it’s left me feeling so bitter and angry about it,” he added. “It was a day we should have been celebrating my dad’s life and it turned out to be day where we were talking about what happened instead.
“People weren’t really giving that much thought to dad, I know it was something beyond our control but the effect that it had on me was unbearable. It’s been completely upsetting.”
Leigh reconnected with his dad after 38 years apart just a decade ago. After he died, Leigh was told by a family member that they had previously worked with L J Guyan on other family funerals.
The company, based in Keynsham, organised the ceremony for January 16, 2023 - a Monday. However, when on his way to the funeral, Leigh says he received a call from L J Guyan informing him that there had been an issue and the funeral would be going ahead later than planned.
Unable to celebrate his father’s life as planned, the attendees made their way to the wake and Leigh later called the funeral directors who he claims explained that the hearse had broken down. He says L J Guyan offered to rearrange the funeral for the following Friday – but many of the mourners couldn’t attend the new date, making for a much more subdued occasion.
Dissatisfied with the experience, Leigh requested a full investigation and months later received a full report. This said that Mr Blanning’s body was taken to Bath to be prepared for the funeral.
But he was then not transported back to the funeral firm’s premises in Keynsham as he should have been and staff failed to carry out checks. This meant that when the hearse arrived at the Keynsham property on the day of the funeral, Mr Blanning’s body was still in Bath - nine miles away.
The report said: “On the morning of 16th January, the day that your father’s funeral was due to take place, our funeral director went to close your fathers coffin and prepare for the funeral and realised that your father was not resting in Keynsham. She discovered that your father was still resting in Bath.
“By this time, our bearer party and hearse were arriving at Keynsham. Our funeral director contacted you and told you that our hearse had broken down. This was not true.”
Leigh, who quit his job to look after his dad, said: “Everyone I’ve spoken to has said they’ve never heard of this happening before and even the funeral home said it has never happened before. How can you lose a body?
“In the report they accept full liability, they admit lying and failing. I’d had a phone call on Sunday evening to say everything was fine, so I said why did I get that phone call and how could they say everything was fine when his body wasn’t there.
“No one realised the body was in Bath and no one in Bath realised he was there - you would imagine they do some kind of stock check. It took two months for them to complete the investigation, I was calling regularly for updates and felt I was being fobbed off - all I wanted to know is what happened.”
A spokesperson for L J Guyan said: “Caring for deceased persons in a professional and respectful manner is at the core of everything we do. We accept that in this instance our robust procedures and policies have not been followed and we have fallen short of the standards we strive for and that our clients have every right to expect.
“We have apologised in person to our client and will continue to support them. Following a thorough investigation, we have amended our processes to ensure there is no repeat of this regrettable situation.”