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Second Church Estates Commissioner apologises to family after burial mix-up

16 September 2022

Holy Trinity, Wingate/Facebook

Holy Trinity, Wingate, County Durham

Holy Trinity, Wingate, County Durham

THE Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, has apologised to a family who, for 17 years, were visiting the wrong grave after a burial mix-up.

When the family of Thomas Bell had come to bury his wife, Hilda, next to his remains in the churchyard at Holy Trinity, Wingate, County Durham, in July, they had found the remains of someone else there. It emerged that Mr Bell had been buried elsewhere in the churchyard.

They had had to wait eight weeks to bury Mrs Bell after the error was discovered. An inquiry into the matter is due to begin next month.

Mr Selous told the House of Commons last week: “This has been a deeply troubling time for the Bell family, and I’d like to pass on my heartfelt apologies for what has happened.”

The Labour MP Grahame Morris called for a reform of how burial records were kept and how plots in churchyards were organised.

He thanked Mr Selous for his assistance on the case during parliamentary recess, and told the Commons: “I can report to the House that Thomas Bell’s coffin has been located and his late wife Hilda was buried with him after a heart-breaking eight-week delay, but appallingly for 17 years the family — who are my constituents living in Easington — unknowingly attended the wrong grave.”

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