Appeal for next of kin to collect unclaimed ashes

Funeral director Martin Cater with some of the urns of unclaimed ashes
Funeral director Martin Cater with some of the urns of unclaimed ashes

TWO funeral directors have launched an unusual appeal calling on people to come forward and collect 124 unclaimed sets of cremated remains, some dating back to the 1970s.

Douglas Mercer and Son and Banfield and Pomphrey, both long established in the area, have joined together with the hope of reuniting the ashes with the next of kin after all other lines of enquiry have drawn a blank.

Many of the ashes have been left in the care of the two businesses for more than 20 years, with the oldest set dating back 42 years to 1971.

Funeral director Martin Carter, spokesman for the joint appeal, said: “After a funeral, the remains are kept at our branches until family members are ready to collect them.

“However, we understand that there are many reasons why families may wish to leave the cremated remains in our care. For some, collecting them may be too painful, while others simply need more time to decide what to do with them.

“With so many uncollected after such a considerable amount of time, we hope that this appeal will encourage families to come forward and visit either of our offices if they have specific wishes for the unclaimed cremated remains or speak to a member of our team about the options available.”

The National Association of Funeral Directors has specific guidelines in place for unclaimed cremated remains, and recommends its members store them for a minimum of five years.

Having both carried out extensive searches for family members for the remains still in their care after this time, the teams at Douglas Mercer and Son and Banford and Pomphrey decided to take a different course of action by launching the joint appeal.

“We’re keen to stress this isn’t about recently bereaved families or those who have asked us to keep remains on their behalf for a specific reason,” said Mr Carter.

“This is purely for cremated remains that have been left unclaimed for a very long time.”

Both funeral directors have had a presence in the area for decades. Douglas Mercer and Son has been serving the local community for more than 100 years, while Banford and Pomphrey has been established in the town since 1946.

Those that believe that the unclaimed cremated remains of their relatives could be at held at one of the branches should contact the team at Douglas Mercer & Son on 01424 421805 or visit the branch in Sedlescombe Road North, St Leonards. Members of the public can also visit the Banford & Pomphrey branch at 476 Old London Road.