With special thanks to Glen Perkins, Nick Southall, Rhiannon Davies and Richard Stanton. This eight-part article will be published each day this week. Read part two here. Some may find the content distressing.
Rhiannon Davies and Richard Stanton, whose daughter died on 1st March 2009 due to “gross medical negligence,” also heard the broadcast made by Nick Southall for BBC Radio Shropshire concerning missing baby ashes.
Davies and Stanton had chosen to have their daughter cremated at Emstrey Crematorium on 17th March 2009. As they write in a press release, “We didn’t want to consign her tiny body to the earth and leave her in a grave in a churchyard in a town that we might one day leave: we felt we couldn't leave Kate behind.” Her death had left them “utterly heartbroken, devastated and in deep shock.” They said the loss of their daughter “destroyed our life – our pain was absolute.”
However, two days before her cremation, their undertaker informed them that Emstrey staff had told her there would be no ashes because “she was too tiny.” She was born at term (40 weeks and 1 day) weighing 7lb 14oz.
Kate’s parents went ahead with the cremation: “Firstly, we desperately hoped that the undertaker was wrong and that Kate's remains would be returned to us, and secondly we reached a difficult acceptance that if there were to be no remains it would mean that the process of cremation would free Kate to simply float away on the air. Once again we were absolutely sure that we could not consign her to a grave where she would be alone… We waited for months for remains to be returned to us before we finally accepted there were none. The acceptance of this fact was very difficult to cope with. Slowly we had to find a way to come to terms with the fact that Kate's remains simply didn't exist.”
The pain and heartache was to all become unearthed again with Southall’s findings in 2014 – a pressure on his conscience that he had been only too aware of when deciding whether or not to make his findings public knowledge. As Davies and Stanton note, “We were shocked and very upset. Initially we tried to ignore the news and we hoped it would turn out to be a false story… Eventually we chose to get in touch with Glen Perkins [father of four-and-a-half month old olivia and who had also, by this point, set up Action for Ashes], to try and understand the background to the BBC Radio Shropshire story. At that point we came to learn of the horrible truth that robbed us of our daughter's remains.”
Read part four 'Burning Out The Truth'-->
Words: Grace Carter
Image credit: full copyright held by Rhiannon Davies and Richard Stanton.