Too much to bear

PUBLISHED: 11:36 13 December 2007 | UPDATED: 13:07 04 May 2010

THE son of a Burwell war veteran has spoken of his anger after pall bearers refused to carry his father s coffin in to church for fear of suffering a back injury. Colin Blackwell, 58, of Kelvedon near Colchester, said his family were forced to endure the

THE son of a Burwell war veteran has spoken of his anger after pall bearers refused to carry his father's coffin in to church for fear of suffering a back injury.

Colin Blackwell, 58, of Kelvedon near Colchester, said his family were forced to endure the indignity of seeing his 89-year-old father Eric jolted around on a squeaky trolley as he entered the old church.

After complaining, Mr Blackwell said he had received a letter saying the pallbearers could not carry the coffin on their shoulders because they were following health and safety advice.

Now Mr Blackwell, a retired shop fitter, is planning to take Hall Street funeral directors C E Fuller and Co to arbitration and is refusing to pay the £2,000 bill.

Mr Blackwell senior, died of pneumonia in May. His funeral was held at the Trinity Methodist Church in Burwell. He was a private in the Second World War and later worked as a factory foreman.

Mr Blackwell said: "If we had known he would be brought in on a squeaky trolley we would have brought him in ourselves."

"He could have been carried, no problem at all. He was nine stone maximum and it wasn't even the case that it was a heavy coffin. The whole family were disgusted that he couldn't have been carried to his grave."

C E Fuller's manager Reg Brown, said he had been sent crank emails by members of the public concerned about excessive observance of health and safety guidelines.

"Using trolleys is a practice that is pretty common," said Mr Brown. "If my boys hurt their backs then I'm liable. This is still a health and safety issue whatever Colin Blackwell says."

"To carry the coffin into Burwell Methodist Church would mean staff having to bend their legs and straighten up once inside. This I find unacceptable and could lead to back problems."

Trinity Methodist Church in Burwell has steps at a right angle to the doors.

"We've had comments saying 'frankly you deserve to go bankrupt'," sa?id Mr Brown. "Fuller's is one of the oldest established firms in Soham, and we did offer Mr Blackwell a discount for any distress caused.

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