Baby ashes not given by Shrewsbury's Emstrey Crematorium

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Media captionOlivia Perkins was one of the babies whose ashes were not returned

The father of a baby who was cremated at a Shropshire crematorium, has said he is angry and upset that her ashes were never returned to him.

Only one in 30 sets of ashes have been given to babies' families by Emstrey Crematorium in Shrewsbury since 2004, a BBC investigation has found.

Glen Perkins, whose four-month-old daughter Olivia was cremated in 2007, said he was told there were no remains.

Shropshire Council, which owns the crematorium, is investigating.

Mr Perkins and his wife, Louise, from Shrewsbury, lost their daughter Olivia to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and opted to have her cremated.

He said: "We were told then, there would be no ashes. We questioned it at the time and research I've done since shows there would've been remains, pieces of bone.

"We don't have a headstone or plaque in the ground for her because we had nothing to put there.

"I don't know where my baby is. Is she mixed in with someone else, has she been scattered at sea, in a river or a beach?"

Image caption The BBC Radio Shropshire investigation found that babies' ashes were returned in just one of 30 cases since 2004

Co-op Funeral Care, which has run Emstrey crematorium on behalf of Shropshire Council since 2011, said in some circumstances there were "no recoverable cremated remains" from baby cremations.

But Ken West, who operated the cremators at Emstrey during the 1960s, believes "bad practice" led to ashes not being recovered.

He said: "I see absolutely no reason why cremated remains were not produced. The issue for me is they were not captured.

"They were either in the flue system or workers didn't take the trouble to check whether there were any ashes before introducing the next cremation. So it's very possible those babies' ashes got mixed in with the next cremation."

In nearby Telford, out of 34 child cremations in the last five years, including seven of "non-viable foetuses", ashes were returned to parents in every case.

'Knowing the truth'

Co-op Funeral Care said it had recently installed new cremators in Shrewsbury, which had specific settings and a "baby tray" in use for the cremation of children under five.

Shropshire Council, which took over the crematorium from Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council in 2009, said all cremations had been carried under strict industry standards.

Leader Keith Barrow said the authority would begin an investigation.

"What's important is to find out exactly what happened because you can't imagine what anyone would feel, losing your child and then not have anything left," he said.

"The council's responsibility, my responsibility, is to find out what happened and let people know the truth."

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