HORRIFIED mourners were left in floods of tears as undertakers arrived at a funeral service – with the wrong coffin.
Friends and relatives had gathered at Southampton Crematorium to say their final farewells to a loved one, who had passed away at the age of 77 following a long illness.
But when the hearse arrived at the East Chapel, they were devastated to find out the coffin that had been brought along had somebody else’s name on it.
The mistake had been spotted by a member of staff at the crematorium who checked the nameplate of the coffin before it entered the chapel.
Funeral directors Nigel Guilder immediately set about collecting the right casket after the error was pointed out. They are reported to have left and returned shortly afterwards having swapped the coffin.
The family were asked to wait in the chapel while the transfer took place.
Witnesses reported seeing mourners in tears as it became clear what had happened.
It is not yet clear whether the family of the person whose name was on the first coffin has been informed of what happened.
The firm, based on Hursley Road in Chandler’s Ford, has refused to discuss the matter despite numerous requests for a comment.
One Hampshire funeral director has described the incident as “horrendous”.
He added: “This is a horrendous thing to happen for any family. There are enough processes in place for this not to happen.”
Nigel Guilder Ltd, which advertises itself as a family-owned firm, offers three types of funeral plan, ranging from the simple £3,085 plan to an “exclusive” £3,690 personalised package.
While the simple plan offers essentials-only and service-only in office hours, the comprehensive “exclusive” option allows for personalised options, two limousines to accompany the hearse and service out of hours.
When Nigel Guilder was approached at his home to comment on the mix-up, he declined to comment.
A spokesman for the city council, which runs the crematorium, said: “The council has a system in place at the crematorium whereby the nameplate on every coffin is checked before it can enter the chapel.
“This very unfortunate and rare mistake was therefore identified very quickly and the funeral director concerned (which is not employed by Southampton City Council) took immediate steps to rectify the situation.
“The family were invited into the chapel to wait until the service could begin.”
The family involved have declined to comment about the ordeal.