Council gravediggers arrive during funeral


A GREAT-GRANDMOTHER’S funeral was delayed after gravediggers arrived whilst family and friends were waiting at the cemetery having forgot to dig her resting place.

The family of the woman claim that when the council eventually dug the grave, it was “a rush job” and younger attendees were left “traumatised”.

Family of Christina Livingstone Proctor, who died aged 93, arrived at Beath cemetery in Fife on July 27 expecting to lay her to rest at 10.45am.

On arrival, the grave was not open, and the funeral directors were forced to ring the council, who said the grave had not yet been dug.

Christina’s body had to lie waiting in the funeral parlour for around two and a half hours whilst gravediggers arrived and completed the work.

She was eventually buried at around 1.15pm.

Christina’s daughter, Elizabeth McHale, has said that the council’s blunder was so ridiculous, you “couldn’t make it up”.

She said: “The funeral director from the Co-op realised on the approach to the cemetery that there was no council van at the gate – he told us later that was when he felt something wasn’t right.

“He called the council and they said it hadn’t been done, and they had to get the gravediggers to come up which took about 20 minutes.

“You’re sitting there and they’re driving past in their wee diggers, and my mum’s just lying there in the hearse. It was just horrible.

McHale, 62, from Dunfermline, said that those who had come to pay respects to Christina were left in shock, and some were even forced to leave before the burial, due to the mishap.

She said: “There were about 100 people standing about wondering what was happening – some of the family couldn’t even get themselves out of the car, just just sat there in shock.

Some of the great-grandchildren were a bit traumatised. It was just heartbreaking.

“They were not babies, they were teenagers, the youngest was 14 or 15 – they were all aware and very upset.

“A few people couldn’t pay their last respects properly because they had to get back to work or had other commitments.

“Mitch Graham [support and development officer] from the council came up and apologised but that’s not enough. No amount of money can change that day – I just wanted to give mum a good send-off.”

“Mitch phoned again on the Monday and said I could speak to his boss, but she just said the same thing – these things should not happen. They did waive the £500 fees, but my mum had already paid those.”

Fife Council issued an apology for the incident and said it was down to communication problems.

The council’s bereavment services manager Liz Murphy said: “We are extremely sorry for the upset that this incident has caused.

“We are investigating the breakdown in communication that resulted in the grave not being prepared at the correct time. The funeral fees have been waived and we have been in contact to offer sincerest apologies.”