With special thanks to Glen Perkins, Nick Southall, Rhiannon Davies and Richard Stanton. Some may find the content distressing.
While a national enquiry into missing baby ashes from crematoriums is of paramount importance, for the Action for Ashes founder and father of Olivia, Glen Perkins, the fact remains that his daughter’s ashes are still missing and the likelihood of them ever being returned is almost non-existent.
The independent report they requested in Shrewsbury has happened and was published in June 2015, although the closure does not come hand-in-hand. The only place that he has to remember his daughter Olivia is in his house. “My wife has created a shrine to Olivia with nothing but her stuff on it. This place is a house of memories. The toys. We still have the toys that we had for her on 2nd December 2007. Those were the first toys wrapped up for Christmas time. They are still wrapped up and they’re in the loft. That’s all we have left.”
In a press conference, Clive Wright, Chief Executive of Shropshire Council, said: “We will now speak with families, The Co-operative Funeralcare – the current operators of Emstrey Crematorium – and other relevant organisations to ask their views on a suitable memorial or memorial service” for the children whose ashes have not been returned.
For Perkins though, this is not the answer. He tells me, “You ask any of these parents affected – they don’t want that. They don’t want a plaque with their baby’s name on it, because their baby is not there. It’s not real. If parents around the country want a memorial then I think it is only right that every council get together and have one erected at the national arboretum. I think that would be a fair tribute to these poor children who have lost their dignity in this way.”
For Perkins though, the only answer moving forwards, plaques and services aside, is getting a national enquiry and full exposure for all the parents affected. “I wanted to honour my daughter’s legacy and I think I have done that in some way by taking this and making it a national thing. Ashes for Action became a national thing in January. It has gone all around the world now. Olivia is known around the world. For a four-and-a-half month old baby, that’s not bad going really - but god I wish it was for something different.”
He continues, “It just hurts so much to know that she’s been recognised and that her legacy is there all around the world and yet she isn’t. I look at photographs and she is looking at me and I just want to hold her and I know that that is never going to be possible. Not until the day I die. In the meantime, I can’t be selfish. I have to consider these other parents that I promised to help and I am going to do that. Every second of every day I will fight until those parents agree that that is enough – that is all we can do. That’s all I have got left. That is really all I have got left to do. To keep fighting.”
How very softly
you tiptoed into my world.
Only a moment you stayed.
But what an imprint
Your footprints have left
On our hearts.
– Author Unknown.
In loving memory of Olivia Perkins, Kate Stanton-Davies and Marianne Southall.
Read part one here.
Read part two here.
Read part three here.
Read part four here.
Read part five here.
Read part six here.
Read part seven here.
Words: Grace Carter