Shropshire

Shrewsbury baby ashes inquiry: Manufacturer defends equipment

Baby Memorial
Image caption The Shropshire inquiry is expected to publish its findings in May

The manufacturer of equipment used at a crematorium criticised for failing to return babies' ashes, has denied its products were to blame.

An inquiry into Emstrey Crematorium in Shrewsbury is due to publish its findings next month.

In March, its chairman David Jenkins said at least 60 families were believed to be affected.

Furnace Construction Co Ltd has said its equipment was capable of recovering ashes from infant cremations.

In a statement, the company said operators would have had to manually override some settings.

Mr Jenkins has previously said he had been told by crematorium staff the equipment could not recover a child's ashes.

Shropshire Council said it would be inappropriate to comment while the inquiry was ongoing.

'Sense of anguish'

The independent inquiry was set up in December to investigate claims babies' ashes were not returned to grieving parents prior to 2012, when new equipment was installed by Co-operative Funeralcare, which took over the running of the site in 2011.

In an update, inquiry chairman Mr Jenkins said he had spoken to families and had been "struck by their very real and acute sense of anguish that they do not have the ashes of their lost child as a tangible focus for their grieving, and, in some cases, anger at officialdom for, as they see it, depriving them of their child's remains".

However, he said he was still seeking detailed information on the maintenance and technical capabilities of the equipment formerly used in Shrewsbury.

He has also had contact with the Scottish government, which was at the centre of a similar inquiry regarding failures at the Mortonhall crematorium.

Mr Jenkins said he had also asked for an update on progress implementing the recommendations of its commission led by Lord Bonomy.

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