Stalybridge funeral director makes appeal following ashes discovery

A FUNERAL director is appealing for relatives of lost loved ones to come forward after the shock discovery of boxes of ashes on a shelf.

Samantha Holland, of Elite Funeral Services, has taken on the former base of Far and Beyond at The Arcade on High Street in Stalybridge, close to the border with Dukinfield.

But when she entered the property, she discovered the ashes of as many as 20 people – dating as far back as 2017 – just sitting in a box filed away in the office.

All that is on them is the person’s name, the date they died, the crematorium they were cremated at and a reference number.

The former ‘Far and Beyond’ Funeral Directors was based in The Arcade

Now she wants any relative to come forward and claim them, in the hope they may get the send-off they deserve.

Samantha, whose firm is not connected to Far and Beyond in any way, said: “It was awful.

“One of the reasons I got into this line of work is because of my own family losses and the way their funerals were handled.

“I feel if someone asks you to look after their loved one, that’s a great privilege and you’re in a position of trust.

“In my personal opinion, that’s been abused and not taken seriously.

“Some families may have been denied the opportunity of getting their loved one back – it also denied the person who died their ashes being dealt with in a way that’s appropriate or dignified.

“They’re on a shelf in an office. There’s nothing dignified about that.

“We looked at the property before Christmas and noticed the ashes that are there. We said, ‘We’ll try and reunite them with their families.’ Now we’ve got permission to do that.

“We need to try and locate the families of the people whose ashes they are. We’re desperate to find the people they belong to.

“We’ve no information other than the names of the people on the boxes.

“If someone knows the name of someone and that their ashes are there, that’s an indicator but we’ll be asking for reassurance should anyone come forward.

“We might ask, ‘Can you tell us the date they died or at which crematorium was the service?’ We’re obviously not just going to give them to anybody.

“It’s actually not the first time I’ve heard of something like this – I’ve never experienced it personally, though, and it might be that families just haven’t collected them, that does happen.”

Finding 20 sets of human ashes in an office may sound disturbing but there is no hint of any police involvement as someone’s corpse will have already been effectively disposed of with the cremation.

Building owners Jigsaw Homes are thought to have consulted officers and the National Federation of Funeral Directors for guidance.

The Correspondent tracked down those behind Far and Beyond, which went into liquidation more than a year ago, and they offered an explanation.

A spokesperson said: “Despite our concerted efforts to reach the next of kin for the cremated remains in our possession, we encountered significant challenges in eliciting responses.

“Many of the ashes had been with us for an extended period and despite utilising the latest contact information provided by our clients and the details maintained by the crematorium’s bereavement services, our attempts to connect with families were unsuccessful.

“As our lease concluded at the Stalybridge branch, Jigsaw Homes assumed control of the property, which legally restricted our access to the premises. We took the additional step of sending letters to our clients, advising them to reach out to Jigsaw Homes directly for any further assistance.

“We understand that it is not uncommon in our industry for funeral directors to hold unclaimed cremated remains, with many opting to scatter these ashes when next of kins cannot be reached.

“However, Far & Beyond has always sought to avoid this course of action, preferring to respect the potential wishes of the families involved.

“We sought guidance from Tameside Council’s bereavement services to ensure our actions were in strict adherence to all applicable procedures and regulations.

“We want to assure the public and the families of the deceased that we have taken every possible measure to handle this delicate situation with the utmost respect and diligence.”

If you feel that you may be one of the families involved, call 0161 669 1166 for assistance.



In our article headlined Stalybridge funeral director makes appeal following ashes discovery, published on Monday, March 4, it states: “the same call has also been made to owners of pets after ashes were found in the adjoining Procare Pet Cremations.” 

We have since learned this is NOT the case and all pet cremated remains entrusted to their care are fully accounted for, and none have been misplaced or abandoned at 1 The Arcade, Stalybridge. 

Procare Pet Cremations has never neglected its responsibilities regarding pet cremated remains. Procare Pet Cremations has not entered liquidation and has no affiliation with Far & Beyond Funeral Services. 

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