The sudden and unexpected loss of a close relative is always devastating for families, but for some the experience can be doubly distressing - faced with funeral expenses they cannot cover. An Accrington family, who went through this ordeal two years ago only to find kindness from their “saviours” Barton & Hallworth Funeral Service, want to help others in a similar position by setting up a Public Funeral Fund. The fund has been set up in honour of Accrington nan Margaret Doreen Greig (formerly Ellis), who passed away on Valentine’s Day 2018, aged 53. Stuart Pike reports.

Jackie Gregson says it was three weeks after her mum’s death that they first got the emotional closure of getting to see her.

Doreen - as she was known - had at first been with another funeral home, but with the family unable to meet the upfront costs and so facing the prospect of a pauper’s ceremony, they appealed to Barton & Hallworth to see if there was anything they could do.

With Paul and Sarah Barton’s priceless support, Jackie, who had feared they might not even get to keep their mum’s ashes, says they were able to give her the send-off she deserved.

She recalled being “hysterical” and breaking down when she contacted Paul, a former Mayor of Hyndburn.

She said: “They did an amazing thing and they helped us - even though we hadn’t really got much money. They didn’t ask for the money up front, they were willing to wait for the social funeral payment to come through. It was amazing what they did, and we will never ever forget it.

“That’s why we have set this up so that they can continue to help people.”

Paul and Sarah Barton, of Barton & Hallworth Funeral Service, Oswaldtwistle

Paul and Sarah arranged for the family to say long-awaited personal goodbyes to their mum on March 12 - the day after Mother’s Day.

Together with her sister Zoe, Jackie is leading a fundraising campaign on behalf of all their family to help others in the same predicament - struggling to pay upfront funeral costs.

They have set up a gofundme page and are targeting the £5,000 mark, which would allow them to help a few families in need and also to register with the Charity Commission.

All monies received will be handled by the Oswaldtwistle funeral director, and fundraising events planned include a sponsored walk next year which will seek to recreate “Doreen’s Final Journey”.

Jackie added: “For people who are genuinely struggling who cannot afford that basic funeral, even that is about £1,000 up front.

“We didn’t ask for much, we just literally wanted a basic commemoration. We would like to gift that upfront cost so that the preparations can be made and they can see their loved ones if they wish.”

Margaret Doreen Greig, who passed away in February 2018

The Public Funeral Fund Facebook page states: “We believe that if we can save just one family from having to go through the horrible ordeal we went through as a family, then one is still better than none, and with the public’s help and support we can make a difference.”

Sarah, Mayoress to her husband in 2009/10, said: “Paul and I think that this is a lovely gesture and very honourable thing the family is doing, so hopefully no-one has to go through what they had to. It’s hard enough for families to grieve when they have lost a loved one, without the added burden of the stress caused by situations similar to theirs.”

To donate visit the gofundme.com page here.

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