Couple's Ashes Thrown out by Parcelforce

A FIRM trusted to transport the ashes of a Liverpool couple to their final resting place in the United States has binned the precious cargo.

Muriel and Stanley Furlong wanted their remains to be scattered in the Mersey and in the Bay at San Francisco, where they lived for 20 years.

But a breakdown in communication meant the ashes were finally left at a Parcelforce Worldwide warehouse in Coventry where they were eventually thrown out after being categorised as foodstuffs.

Parcelforce Worldwide insist they are still in touch with the family trying to resolve the matter, and earlier this year refunded the £97.49 courier fee with a letter apologising for “the failure in our service on this occasion”.

Son, Wayne Furlong, originally from Liverpool but now living in Florida, told the ECHO: “To be scattered together was their last wish, and now it can’t be done. I just want to find out where they are.”

Mrs Furlong died last November in the Royal Liverpool Hospital after developing an abcess on her leg. She was 79, and the one-time owner of an antiques shop in Penny Lane near where the family lived on Smithdown Place.

She had returned to Liverpool after toolmaker Mr Furlong died in 1998 in California.

Mr Furlong jnr, 52, brought his dad’s ashes back with him when he came for his mum’s funeral with the idea of his parents’ ashes being put together.

Of all the places the couple had lived in the US San Francisco was their favourite, and he and twin sister Sylvia wanted to carry out their wishes to have the ashes scattered in the River Mersey and in San Francisco Bay

Funeral directors are forbidden from mixing remains. Instead, under instruction from the Royal Liverpool Hospital’s Bereavement Services, who organised Mrs Furlong’s funeral, T. Porter and Sons of Anfield provided a special wooden casket with brass plaques naming the Furlongs, and put each set of ashes into hermetically sealed bags.

This was then entrusted to Parcelforce Worldwide for delivery to the US.

The ashes arrived in the USA on Christmas Day, but remained unclaimed until February 1 due to Sylvia’s moving house and the message that the remains were waiting for collection not getting through.

They were then returned to the UK.

After inquiries were made about their whereabouts it was discovered that they had been disposed of on February 12.

Real estate broker Mr Furlong jnr, who as a teenager attended the Holt School in Childwall, said: “It was so clear what it was, and on the bags were labels saying inside were my parents remains. They could be in some tip in Coventry now covered in curry sauce.”

Now the dad-of-one fears the remains of his parents have been lost forever.

A Parcelforce Worldwide spokesman said: “We offer our deepest sympathy to the family and we continue to be in touch with them over this matter.”

However they stressed that sending human remains through their service was prohibited.

In a letter to Royal Liverpool Hospital’s Bereavement Services they said: “We have no listing of a casket in our records. The team working in our recovery centre were mortified when told of the contents and adamant that if there had been a casket and name plaques they would not have disposed of the item.”