The family of a Worksop pensioner who was charged £160 after his wife’s funeral ran late say they are ‘deeply touched’ by efforts across the UK to raise his money back.
Seventy-three-year-old widower Frank Blades told the Guardian of his heartbreak at being forced to pay the £160 fee, which it was revealed has been passed on to him by Hopkinson’s Funeral Directors, who were charged for late cemetery arrival by Bassetlaw Council.
Frank’s story sparked nationwide fury after it was posted online and later appeared on TV news programmes, with people abranding the charge ‘barbaric’ and ‘disgraceful’ on social media.
One of these people was Stephen Holden, from Maidstone, Kent, who quickly set up a Just Giving page to raise the £160 back.
Stephen said: “The story didn’t sit right with me.
“Setting up a crowd funding page was just a small gesture to make a grieving man smile.”
UK residents as far from Worksop as Bristol and Sussex were touched by Frank’s story and have donated to the Just Giving page, which has a target of £200 so that Frank has ‘some leftover for a nice bottle of Scotch or whatever he chooses.’
Frank’s daughter, Cindy Playfoot, said: “We are totally amazed.
“We never expected the story to go so far and we are in awe of people’s kindness.”
Since it was revealed that the fee was passed on to Frank by the company, Hopkinson’s Funeral Directors have been unavailable for comment.
But a fellow Worksop funeral director, Robert Priest, said that ‘the client should not have been charged’ the £160 fee.
Bassetlaw Council is keen to stress that they charge had not been issued to Frank by them. A spokesman said: “It is important that the public understand that under no circumstances will the council issue a fine to an individual or funeral party for spending time at a graveside.
“We understand that funerals are a difficult and distressing time for families and the council will never put a timescale or attach a value to the need to say goodbye to a loved one.”
“In April this year Bassetlaw District Council introduced a late arrival fee which is charged to funeral directors who arrive at the cemetery more than 15 minutes later than the time they have specified.
“The fee is charged only to the funeral directors and only for a late arrival.
“It is in no way related to the amount of time that mourners spend at the graveside or in the cemetery.”
You can donate to the Just Giving page set up in aid of Frank online at https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/Frank-Blades.