Grieving widower fined for standing too long at wife's graveside

A grieving widower was charged £160 by funeral directors for standing too long at his wife's grave after her burial.
Heartbroken Frank Blades was offered the chance to spend a few more minutes beside the graveside of his wife Violet, who had died just months after being diagnosed with cancer.
The pensioner was told there was "no rush" to leave Hannah Park Cemetery in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, and spent an extra 20 minutes at the cemetery after the burial.

But when Mr Blades received the bill for his late wife's funeral from theFuneral Directors, he was shocked to notice a hefty £160 charge on top of his £6,000 burial fee.

Bassetlaw District Council later revealed the charge should have actually been paid by the funeral directors for arriving late at the cemetery - and should not have been passed onto Mr Blades.
Mr Blades of Worksop, said: "Losing someone you love dearly is devastating enough without being charged for wanting to grieve with your family."

    "After the service, I was told that there was no rush and that this was my time," he continued. "I didn't feel ready to leave the cemetery immediately so I stayed at Violet's graveside for a while.

    "Because we had been told there was no rush, me and my family also walked round for a bit visiting the graves of relatives. "

After receiving the bill, Mr Blades was later told by Hopkinsons that this was a council fee issued when gravediggers are required to work beyond their contracted hours.
Mr Blades added:

    "I was upset when I found out the reason behind the fee because I had been told I could take as much time as I wanted.

    "I feel like the council were trying to cash in on what has been a very difficult time for me and my family.

    "I didn't have the energy to challenge the fee because I had just buried my partner, and I paid it without a fuss.

    "But a couple of days later, I started to think about it more and I got really angry about it. "Money means nothing to me- it won't bring Violet back. But I want to warn others about the issue because when you've said goodbye to a loved one this is the last thing you want."

Mr Blade's daughter, Cindy Playfoot, said: "It's disgusting that in your hour of need you can get hit with a fine like this when a funeral is already a massive financial burden.
"If one of the gravediggers had approached us and told us they needed to carry on, we would have been fine with it. Instead we were slapped with extra costs."
A councilman stated that the fine was to the funeral directors who passed the bill to Mr Blades.

    He said: "When a burial is booked by the funeral director they are asked to provide the time of the church service, along with an arrival time at the cemetery.

    "On this occasion the funeral party arrived at the cemetery 45 minutes after the time stated, and in turn, this delayed the process of council staff completing the burial, which took them beyond their contracted hours.

    "As a burial authority it is important that we ensure the privacy of every funeral and that no two funerals take place at the same time.

"The onus is on the respective funeral director to ensure that each ceremony runs smoothly and on schedule.

MP for Bassetlaw John Mann said: "I was very sad to hear of Mr Blade's loss. He is very welcome to come and speak to me, and I will be very pleased to assist and help sort out this very distressing issue."