Blyth undertakers keep money despite not arranging funeral

Image source, Family photograph
Image caption,
Jean Hartgrove died from coronavirus in April

A family is trying to get back £4,000 from an undertakers which did not carry out their mother's funeral as planned.

Blyth funeral directors K&T Shields said it had no protective kit to move Jean Hargrove, who died from Covid-19.

Her family says the firm has not returned the £3,995 she had pre-paid despite having said it would.

Director Trevor Shields declined to comment. His son, Grant Shields, did not respond to the BBC but told the family he had left the firm.

The company has now closed apparently following a family feud between the pair, with accusations made on both sides via social media.

Customers have said both father and son have told them to contact the police with any complaints.

Image caption,
Mrs Hartgrove's daughter, Ellen Smith, said they had had the money back

Mrs Hartgrove's daughter, Ellen Smith, said Trevor Shields had told them the firm could not provide the agreed services for her mother because they did not have the correct personal protective equipment (PPE).

"I couldn't believe it to be honest because the Covid had been on for a month then," she said.

They agreed to refund the funeral plan money so the family could engage another firm, but have not yet done so, she said.

Image caption,
Don Hartgrove said the funeral director and his son were blaming each other

Ms Smith's brother, Don Hartgrove, said neither father nor son would accept responsibility.

"You have Trevor Shields saying it's got nothing to do with him, he's only the appointed funeral director, the agreement was made with Shields Insurance, which is headed up by his son, Grant Shields," he said.

"Grant Shields says he resigned from the company in 2019, he has no further information or communication with the company and he suggests you get in touch with his dad.

"They're each batting, you know, throwing responsibility to each other."

Image caption,
Sheelagh Kearney said it was "disgusting"

Another Blyth resident, Sheelagh Kearney, said she had asked for a refund of the £2,000 she paid into a funeral plan with the company but had not received it.

"Trevor and Grant both told us to phone the police, let them know what's happening," she said.

"There has to be something wrong, deeply wrong, in the family for them to tell people to phone the police."

A number of funeral plan holders have complained to Northumbria Police.

The force said it was investigating.

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