Grieving family is refunded funeral costs after complaints to Bishop of Bedford

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Grieving relatives have complained to the Bishop about a “lack of compassion” shown by the vicar who conducted their loved one’s funeral.

The Rev Jane Bass allegedly told the family to hurry up during their readings then proceeded to bless the coffin with a plastic bowl and spoon.

“The final insult was when the vicar started talking about the history of the church halfway through the service and sent round a collection box for donations towards the upkeep,” said mourner St John Dempster.

St John and his five sisters chose St Mary the Virgin Church at Keysoe for the funeral service for their sister Phillipa Hillam, who died at the age of 61.

But they accuse the Rev Bass, who has been conducting funerals for 40 years, of looking disinterested and being unhelpful towards them.

Now, after several complaints to the Bishop of Bedford, the Diocese of St Albans has offered a refund for the clergy hire cost of the funeral.

But the Diocese was adamant that the Rev Bass had done nothing wrong and they have never received other complaints about her funeral manner,

A Diocese spokesman said: “The priest who took the service, Rev Jane Bass, is extremely sorry that some members of the family were unhappy with the service. She and the Bishop of Bedford have apologised to those members of the family who are unhappy in the hope of resolving matters and the priest has refunded her fee for the service as an act of goodwill.”

The spokesman said the “voluntary” collection taken was normal practice at funerals in many parishes.

He added: “The receptacle used for water to bless the coffin has been used regularly in the parish for such purposes and is an unbreakable clear embossed plastic bowl.”

He said the vicar was continuing to pray for the family.