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Grieving pensioner charged £160 for 'staying too long' at wife's grave

A grieving husband has been slapped with a £160 bill for "staying too long" at his wife's grave following her burial.

Widower Frank Blades spent an extra 20 minutes at the end of the ceremony in the Nottinghamshire cemetery, standing beside the spot where his wife Violet had been laid to rest before visiting other relatives buried in the same ground.

But when he received the bill from Hopkinsons Funeral Directors, the £6,000 fee was topped up by an unexpected extra £160 charge.

Frank Blades was charged for staying 'too long' at the end of his wife's burial Credit: SWNS

Mr Blades, aged 71, of Worksop, said he had not felt ready to leave immediately after the service, and had been told there was "no rush".

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

Losing someone you love dearly is devastating enough without being charged for wanting to grieve with your family.

– Frank Blades

He said he "didn't have the energy" to challenge the fee so soon after Violet had passed away, just months after being diagnosed with cancer, and paid it.

But now he said he wants to warn other families in mourning.

Bassetlaw District Council, which runs the Hannah Park Cemetery, confirmed it had imposed the charge as the funeral party had arrived 45 minutes after their scheduled time - but said it had been Hopkinsons Funeral Directors, not the family, that should have paid the bill.

Violet Blades passed away following a short battle with cancer Credit: SWNS

The council's head of neighbourhoods, Liz Prime, said she was "surprised" that this had been passed on to the Blades family.

Firstly, we would like to pass on our condolences to Mr Blades and his family.

To clarify the situation, this fee was charged to Hopkinsons Funeral Directors due to a late arrival at the cemetery and, to our surprise, they appear to have passed this fee on to Mr Blades.

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.

The Funeral Directors were not penalised because Mr Blades spent additional time in Hannah Park Cemetery visiting other family graves. We will be contacting both parties to explain the reasons for the charge.

– Liz Prime, Bassetlaw District Council

She added that the charge was imposed on funeral directors as part of work to ensure no two burials took place at the same time, out of respect for grieving families.

A spokesman for Hopkinsons Funeral Directors said:

We incurred a charge of £160 from Bassetlaw District Council due to their gravediggers working beyond their contracted hours when our client wished to visit other family graves following the funeral.

As with any third-party fee that we pay on behalf of our clients this was included in our final invoice.

Our funeral director remained at the cemetery with our client until he was ready to return home, for which we did not charge.

– Hopkinsons Funeral Directors spokesman