Bristol man’s funeral cancelled after body is ‘lost’ on day of ceremony

Funeral director apologises after mistake

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A Keynsham-based undertaker has apologised after misplacing a man’s body on the day of his funeral.

L J Guyan was set to take the body of John Blanning, 82, to his funeral in Bristol from Keynsham, where the funeral director’s office is located. But on the day of the ceremony, the late Mr Blanning’s body had been left in Bath.

This meant it could not be transported to the funeral location in Bristol in time - and the ceremony was cancelled.

Mr Blanning’s son, Leigh, said: “It was the most horrific experience I’ve ever had. Even now, a couple of months, on I don’t feel any justice has been done.

“It was a day we should have been celebrating my dad’s life and it turned out to be day where we were talking about what happened instead.

“People weren’t really giving that much thought to dad, I know it was something beyond our control but the effect that it had on me was unbearable. It’s been completely upsetting.”

Leigh reconnected with his dad after 38 years apart just a decade ago. After he died, Leigh was told by a family member that they had previously worked with L J Guyan on other family funerals.

The company organised the ceremony for January 16, 2023 - a Monday.

Leigh Blanning with a photo of his late father JohnLeigh Blanning with a photo of his late father John
Leigh Blanning with a photo of his late father John

However, when on his way to the funeral, Leigh says he received a call from L J Guyan informing him that there had been an issue - and the funeral would be going ahead later than planned.

Unable to celebrate his father’s life as planned, the attendees made their way to the wake and Leigh later called the funeral directors who he claims explained that the hearse had broken down.

He says L J Guyan offered to rearrange the funeral for the following Friday – but many of the mourners couldn’t attend the new date, making for a much more subdued occasion.

Dissatisfied with the experience, Leigh requested a full investigation and months later received a full report.

This said that Mr Blanning’s body was taken to Bath to be prepared for the funeral. But he was then not transported back to the funeral firm’s premises in Keynsham as he should have been - and staff failed to carry out checks.

Leigh Blanning quit his job after his father diedLeigh Blanning quit his job after his father died
Leigh Blanning quit his job after his father died

The report said: “On the morning of 16th January, the day that your father’s funeral was due to take place, our funeral director went to close your fathers coffin and prepare for the funeral and realised that your father was not resting in Keynsham.

“She discovered that your father was still resting in Bath. By this time, our bearer party and hearse were arriving at Keynsham.”

A spokesperson for L J Guyan said: “Caring for deceased persons in a professional and respectful manner is at the core of everything we do.

“We accept that in this instance our robust procedures and policies have not been followed and we have fallen short of the standards we strive for and that our clients have every right to expect.

“We have apologised in person to our client and will continue to support them.

“Following a thorough investigation, we have amended our processes to ensure there is no repeat of this regrettable situation.”

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