Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Fife baby ashes families welcome memorial plans

Carol Howden's baby son John Image copyright Carol Howden
Image caption Carol Howden's baby son John died 30 years ago

Dozens of families whose young children's ashes were improperly disposed of at a council-run crematorium in Fife have welcomed plans for a permanent memorial.

Earlier this year Fife Council agreed a compensation scheme for families but not a memorial.

Scottish artist David Annand would design the bronze angel sculpture.

Fife Council stressed the details were not finalised and some parents had yet to decide on a "fitting tribute".

Thompsons Solicitors acted on behalf of 97 parents to work with the council on securing the agreement for a permanent memorial.

It is understood the angel, which would be holding a scroll with the children's names inscribed on it, could be sited in Townhill Country Park in Dunfermline with work beginning early in the new year.

Image caption Carol Howden said the memorial was the best Christmas present she could wish for

Carol Howden lost her son John when he was four months old.

She was told by crematorium staff there were no remains of her son. However the staff had disposed of her son's ashes in an improper way.

Since the scandal first came to light, she has campaigned for both an official apology from Fife Council, which she received, but also for a memorial to the lost children.

Ms Howden said: "This is the best Christmas present that I could ever have received.

"I can't begin to explain what a rollercoaster of a journey it's been to get this memorial for our lost babies agreed. Until now we have had nowhere to mark their passing.

"Townhill Community Centre have given us a home for our angel and I am overwhelmed by their kindness and can't thank them enough.

"I will never get over the pain of losing John, but as a parent not having somewhere you can go to pay your respects to your baby and see their name has been unbearable. This will give me some measure of closure."

'Dedication and determination'

Catherine McGarrell, from Thompsons Solicitors, represented the families involved in the case.

She said: "Agreeing a memorial for their lost children has always been unfinished business for the parents.

"We have now received guarantees from Fife Council and work with the artist Mr Annand will begin soon.

"This has been a very emotional case for everyone involved and I would like to pay tribute to the dedication and determination of the parents but also to thank the local authority for listening to our clients and helping us get agreements in place."

Alan Paul, a senior manager at Fife Council, said: "This is an extremely sensitive matter for all the families involved and we need to make sure that any memorial is a fitting tribute and one which they are comfortable with.

"The detail of this proposal as it stands hasn't been finalised or agreed by all the affected parents yet.

"While we appreciate many of these parents are keen for this proposal to go ahead, we need to be mindful of the other parents who are yet to decide."

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