Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Mother's baby ashes scandal memorial call

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

A bereaved mother is threatening legal action over the lack of a dedicated memorial to babies whose ashes were never returned to their families.

Carol Howden was told there would be no ashes following the death of her four-month-old son, John, 30 years ago.

She later learned his ashes were dispersed in the grounds of Dunfermline's council-run crematorium.

Fife Council has apologised for the anguish caused by past practices and said it has memorials to babies.

Ms Howden is among parents to have been caught up in Scotland's nationwide baby ashes scandal.

Image caption Carol Howden wants a dedicated memorial to John and other babies lost to families in Fife

Ms Howden, who now lives in the Highlands, said the lack of a dedicated memorial to her baby and infants from other Fife families who had suffered a similar experience to her own continued to be the source of distress.

She told BBC Scotland: "Who took his ashes?

"Who scattered his ashes? It wasn't me or my family. It was a stranger.

"You wouldn't even want that for your pets would you, never mind your child, your gorgeous little baby."

'A blight'

Fife Council has been accused of being "heartless" and failing to follow recommendations made after an official inquiry into the ashes scandal.

The local authority has not compensated all parents caught up in the scandal in its area, or erected a dedicated memorial for 13 local infants - measures adopted by other Scottish local authorities following an official, nationwide investigation.

Patrick McGuire, of Thompsons Solicitors, has already acted for parents affected in Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

Image caption Other families were caught up in Scotland's baby ashes scandal

Mr McGuire said: "There is no doubt that the baby ashes scandal is a blight on all of our country.

"Most local authorities have finally stepped up and done the right thing. Fife Council haven't.

"They have refused to do so. They won't enter into any meaningful form of dialogue."

Mr McGuire described Fife Council's response so far as heartless.

'Lost babies'

In a statement, the council said it already had specific baby areas with memorials at its crematoria and cemeteries.

It said these areas were developed and managed in conjunction with the bereavement charity Sands.

The authority said it would be happy to work with any parent who wished to have their baby's name added to any of these memorials.

But Ms Howden, who learned of what happened to John's ashes following a BBC Scotland investigation in 2013, said a dedicated memorial was needed and her next step in her fight to have one would be legal action.

She said: "They need a memorial for the lost babies.

"I don't know where John is. I have no plot. I just got told that he got put on a waste piece of ground. I know no more than that."

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