Ashes to ashes: Funeral parlour calls on people to collect 297 loved ones' remains

ASHES TO ASHES: Funeral director Jasmine Wilkins holds some of the oldest boxes of remains stored in cupboards at the funeral parlour. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 0906jkashes1
ASHES TO ASHES: Funeral director Jasmine Wilkins holds some of the oldest boxes of remains stored in cupboards at the funeral parlour. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 0906jkashes1

An Orange funeral parlour is appealing for people to collect the ashes of family members from cremations dating back to the 1960s.

Norman J Penhall Funerals has several cupboards full of boxes containing the ashes of 297 people who have not been claimed.

Funeral director Jasmine Wilkins said they included “famous people in Orange,” babies and children.

She said the ashes have been collected from funerals directed by Penhalls and two companies it had took over many years ago, Keith N. Baker Funerals and Ophir Funerals.

“In most cases [for the older funerals] the next of kin has passed as well,” she said.

Miss Wilkins said she did not have next of kin details for the funerals directed by the other companies.

People have been visiting the plaque but no actual ashes are there.

Jasmine Wilkins, funeral director

“I know who is in each of the boxes and I [mostly] know the dates,” she said.

“There are some that are really recent as well, we’ve got a huge amount from 2000-2010.”

She said in most cases the ashes had simply not been collected after the funerals.

Her search to find resting places for the remains was partly solved when she discovered some boxes of ashes had not been placed behind plaques in the Canobolas Gardens Crematorium.

“People have been visiting the plaque but no actual ashes are there,” she said.

“I don’t actually know how that happened, back in the day.”

Miss Wilkins said some people had not collected the ashes because they didn’t know what to do with them.

“A lot of people are leaving one family member here until the other one passes, but they never come back,” she said.

Miss Wilkins said there were plans for a memorial garden to be built at the crematorium but they preferred to see the ashes claimed.

“We’re looking for homes, we want to find resting places for them, you can’t visit here, you can’t place flowers on a memorial,” she said.

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