Family made to wait to see their dead son after funeral directors could not provide coffin
A GRIEVING family claim they were robbed of spending precious time with their dead son when the funeral directors could not provide the coffin.
After their son Steven Rudderham died suddenly, David and Carol Matthews were desperate to visit him to say their final goodbyes before he was buried.
They had made the arrangements with the Co-operative Funeralcare and chosen the coffin the previous day after their 48-year-old son was found hanged in the grounds of Hessle Cemetery.
However, on the morning they were due to see the body, a member of Co-op staff rang to say his coffin was not available to lay him in for viewing.
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Instead the Co-op in Holderness Road, east Hull, offered to lay Steven on a table with a sheet over him, but warned he would not be "fully prepared".
Steven's father David, 66, of Clapham Avenue, east Hull, said: "I was in disbelief when he rang to say they didn't have the coffin.
"A funeral directors not having the coffin is surely like a sweet shop having no sweets.
"I thought someone was winding us up. I was lost for words.
"When we chose the coffin on the Thursday, at no point did the chap say it would not be available on the Friday when he said we could come back to see Steven.
"On the Friday morning when they rang they said they could not get the coffin until the Monday. We felt like they were robbing us of seeing him on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday, when we had family travelling to visit."
Mr Matthews then called the Co-op on the Monday at 9am and was told his son's body was still not completely ready to view, but that he would receive a call when he could go in.
He says he rang back at 3pm to be told his son had been "ready for ages".
Mr Matthews said: "When I got there, my granddaughter was already there and she said they had told her I had already been.
"That was the straw that broke the camel's back for me.
"After everything, they had not even called me to say I could go and see my son when they knew I was waiting.
"The care we received from them can only be described as devastating.
"We've since found out it is normal practice for the undertakers in Hull to move coffins around if they do not have one and have been told usually all efforts are made to make sure there is a coffin available."
Following all the heartache, Mr and Mrs Matthews chose to remove Steven from the care of the Co-Op and instructed a different funeral directors to take over.
A spokesperson for The Co-operative Funeralcare, said: "We are distressed to hear that Mr Matthews was not happy with the service.
"Our funeral home carries a full range of coffins in varying sizes but regrettably we did not have immediate access to the chosen coffin.
"Immediate arrangements were made and the desired coffin was available the next working day.
"In the meantime, we offered Mr Matthews the option of having his son prepared and presented with dignity and respect for the family to visit over the weekend, but he chose to wait until the Monday.
"On the Monday, it became evident that the family were looking for a lower-specification funeral and they decided to go elsewhere.
"We did not charge for any services provided up until the time of the cancellation."
An inquest into the death of Mr Rudderham is expected to be held in May.