Dorset

Casket of ashes washes up on Mudeford beach

Lesley Dedman
Image caption Lesley Dedman made the surprising discovery on the beach in Mudeford

A casket of ashes has been washed up on a Dorset beach.

The Mayor of Christchurch, Lesley Dedman, made the discovery while walking her dogs in Mudeford.

Despite making local inquiries, Ms Dedman has had no luck tracing the next of kin of Audrey Maguire, whose name is on the wooden box.

"Clearly she wants to be at sea, "she said. "If I don't find out who she belongs to I'll do it myself."

Ms Dedman found the casket on 23 December.

"I wasn't sure what to do with it but what I didn't want was anybody else to find it and have the shock that I had," she said.

"I took it home and thought about it for a little while and my feeling was it must have been buried at sea and washed back in, so I then investigated people who do burials at sea, and now I'm trying to find out who the family are."

Image caption The box has a brass plaque with the name Audrey Maguire on it

The Britannia Shipping Company For Burial At Sea, which was not involved in the burial, informed her that bio-degradable urns should be used.

Ms Dedman, also a councillor in the West Highcliffe ward, said if the family is not traced she will return the remains to the sea, taking a boat out with her local vicar.

She said in the meantime the casket had been put "carefully under a tree" in her garden with flowers on it "because clearly this is a person and deserves a great deal of respect".

She added: "I would very much like [the family] to know that she is at rest, and this is what worried me in the first instance... clearly she wanted to be at sea and she is now on land."

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