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Petition launched after Rochester undertaker scandal

By Nicola Jordan

A petition has been launched calling for all UK funeral directors to be regulated.

It has been set up by an undertaker concerned about the practices at a former business in Rochester High Street.

Campaigners Andrea Button(right), Natasha-Boardman Steer and Cllr Vince Maple (4065198)
Campaigners Andrea Button(right), Natasha-Boardman Steer and Cllr Vince Maple (4065198)

The Messenger previously revealed how a man felt he had to break into Butterfly Funeral Services to retrieve his mother-in-law’s body after he failed to reach the owner, Karen Calder.

There were also further claims about urns of people’s ashes not being returned to their families.

This week MP Kelly Tolhurst (Con) has said she was shocked at the situation and is demanding a full investigation of the business.

Andrea Button, who runs Chatham-based Button and Family Funeral Services, is spearheading the petition.

She said: “When we have a situation like the one we have recently seen reported, it has a negative impact on our industry overall, despite most colleagues being members of one of the two leading trade associations - the National Association of Funeral Directors and The National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors.

“Both carry out a huge number of checks to ensure an excellent standard of service but no provider is required to be a member.

“I hope we will see these changes bought forward as soon as possible.”

Labour group leader Cllr Vince Maple is backing the move for greater scrutiny.

He said: “Most people would have expected to find this industry to be regulated by law – to find that is not the case was very surprising indeed.

“I’m sure this issue will find cross-party support.”

Natasha-Boardman Steer, co-director of the Improving Mental Health Provision, said: “I am involved in a project which is looking at bereavement and death across the world.

“This is an area which we need to see positive improvement in this country – I think this proposed regulation of funeral directors would give people additional confidence that they wouldn’t be at risk of ending up in an unthinkable situation like the one recently reported.”

Ms Calder has previously apologised to customers, saying she is suffering from long-term health problems.

To sign the petition, visit: bit.ly/2Nzauat

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