A 'DEVASTATED' Reading man was shocked to discover that his mother's ashes had been put into a plastic bag after having her grave exhumed.

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Mark Harris, 41, wanted his mother's ashes removed from the grave because he believes someone had been digging near the gravestone after repeatedly seeing deep holes.

When he questioned staff at the Reading Cemetery, All Hallows Road, they told him it had likely been caused by animals, but Mr Harris didn't believe this to be true.

Reading Chronicle:

Upon having the grave exhumed, which his mother Muriel Amos shared with Mr Harris' stepmother Pamela May Harris, he made the discovery that his mother's ashes were inside an old supermarket plastic bag in the urn.

Mr Harris said: "I want answers as to why and how this has happened.

"It has had an effect on my mental health.

"I am devastated. To sort this, my mother will have to be 're-cremated' in order for the ashes to be how they should be, as they have just been buried in a bag for years.

"It also makes me wonder how many other people have been cremated in this way - because nobody would ever find out.

"I was 12 when my mum died and all this time she has been like this - she hasn't been treated well in her death."

Mr Harris' mother died in 1991, so he has been unable to get answers because nobody that worked at the crematorium in that period is still there.

Reading Chronicle:

A spokesman from Reading Borough Council said: "We fully appreciate Mr Harris’ concern at his finding, but as this funeral dates back almost 30 years we have no way of checking the route these particular ashes took following cremation, whether that was to a funeral director or via another route.

"Our current process is that, unless otherwise specified by the family, ashes leave the crematorium wrapped in biodegradable bags and boxes which are labelled twice.

"They are then distributed according to the family’s wishes, whether that is via a funeral director or to the family themselves."

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Spokesman for funeral director AB Walker said: "AB Walker arranged a cremation in 1991 for Muriel Amos and the cremated remains were subsequently buried by the family in the grounds of Henley Road Cemetery.

"An allegation was made by Mr Mark Harris, her son, last week which he subsequently shared extensively with local and national media.

"Whilst we are sympathetic to the sensitivity of his situation, we do not have any knowledge as to how or why cremated remains would be placed inside a urn contained in a plastic bag; it has never been our practice to do so.

"At the moment we and all cemetery and crematorium staff are very much focused on the delivery of funeral services during the pandemic period but in order to help support Mr Harris, we have offered to provide another urn for a re-burial of his mother’s ashes with dignity."