Poor record keeping at Wingate church led to Bell family grieving at wrong grave, inquiry finds

An inquiry has found poor record keeping contributed to a family grieving at the wrong grave for 17 years. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

Poor record keeping was blamed for problems which led to a family grieving at the wrong grave for 17 years.

An inquiry was carried out by the Diocese of Durham after it emerged the Bell family had been visiting the wrong grave since the death of their father Thomas.

The headstone had been put on the wrong grave at Holy Trinity in Wingate, County Durham, in 2005 but it was only discovered when they went to bury his wife Hilda this year.

An inquiry has found a "perfect storm" of problems had led to the situation.

The Venerable Bob Cooper, Archdeacon of Sunderland, said the church could not guarantee the situation would not happen again because of gaps in the record.

He said the overall lack of records had been "compounded" by burglars in the late 1970s who broke in and burnt church documents on the altar.

He added that since the church yard closed certain parts of the churchyard had become overgrown.

He said: "This has been a case of great sadness and the reviewer notes the gracious way that all participants have entered into it.

"It cannot be guaranteed that historic cases like this will not reoccur because there will be gaps in the records (for many reasons) in parishes across the Diocese of Durham and further afield.

"However, going forward, the protocols and recommendations suggested in this report should ensure that from now onwards they do not happen again."

It has been recommend that all parishes in the diocese introduce new protocols to try and make sure it does not happen again.

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