Mother of woman killed in Skipton canal boat tragedy loses appeal

THE mother of a woman who was killed in a canal boat tragedy has lost her appeal to reunite her daughter’s ashes with her husband who died recently.

A judge has refused consent for exhumation of the remains of Beverley Pamela Wilson, who died in a canal boat incident in Skipton in 1998, from a plot at Parkside Road Cemetery, Kendal, so they can be re-buried in another plot in the same cemetery where her father, Michael Wilson has been buried.

The plea to the Church of England’s Consistory Court for consent for the exhumation and re-burial was made by Beverly’s mother Pamela Wilson.

But Geoffrey Tattersall QC, Chancellor of the Diocese of Carlisle, in his role as a judge of the Consistory Court has refused.

Beverley was one of four people who died during a ‘freak accident’ in a lock on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Gargrave near Skipton.

The 33-year-old was among a party of eight from Mill Lane Adult Training Centre on Walney Island enjoying a week-long holiday on the canal.

In her plea to the court Mrs Wilson said: “Beverley died tragically in a canal boat accident in Skipton around twenty years ago when she was drowned with others.

“The funeral and court case happened very quickly with Michael and myself in shock and hardly able to grasp what was happening. As my daughters are both mentally handicapped and Michael has died I don’t feel they should be on their own and we should all be together.”

But her heartfelt plea failed to persuade Chancellor Tattersall to side-step the long-standing church philosophy that a last resting place should be just that unless there are exceptional circumstances or there has been a mistake.

Refusing consent, he said: “In my judgment the petitioner has not established that there are exceptional circumstances which would justify my permitting an exhumation of the deceased.”

He said that when Beverley’s cremated remains were buried almost 23 years ago, they could have been in an oak casket or may just have been poured into the ground.

“It may be difficult to satisfactorily exhume such cremated remains,” he said.

“Most importantly, I am satisfied that the deceased ‘s current grave is currently capable of accommodating the cremated remains of her recently deceased father and the proposed interments of the cremated remains of her mother and siblings.”

The question of the headstone on the grave had also been raised on the grounds that it would be too small to take the names of all the family members, but Chancellor Tattersall said that was of no significance since a new headstone could be erected.

“It thus follows that in my judgment, in the exercise of my discretion, I do not grant the faculty (permission) sought because I do not accept that any exception is warranted by the facts of this case to the presumption of the permanence of Christian burial,” he said.

“I do so with some regret as I appreciate that my decision will cause distress to the petitioner’s family.”

Beverley grew up in Kendal and attended Sandgate School before moving to Barrow.

She attended the social services day centre at Mill Lane where she was learning social, literacy and daily living skills.

The Westmorland Gazette | News