Husband and wife rest together after 17 years in wrong grave

Husband and wife rest together after 17 years in wrong grave

Thomas and Hilda Bell together, and their son Tom at the graveside

The Diocese of Durham has launched an investigation into the error (Image: North News & Pictures Ltd)

The body of a father who was buried in the wrong grave rests in the right place after nearly two decades.

Thomas Bell was buried in Holy Trinity Church Cemetery in Wingate, County Durham, in 2005.

For 17 years, his family visited the wrong resting place, which was only two meters from where he was supposed to be buried.

It was only after his wife Hilda Bell passed away in June that relatives realized their loved one was not where they had thought.

Her son, Tom, 58, and her sisters Denise, 59, and Debra, 53, planned to bury her next to Thomas after a July 1 funeral.

However, just a few days before the burial, it was discovered that someone else had been buried in his grave, and his coffin was nowhere to be found.

Over the next six weeks, eight graves were excavated in the hope of finding Thomas’s remains, adding further trouble to the grieving family.

They are Tom at the grave of his parents

Tom Bell had been visiting the wrong grave for nearly two decades (Image: North News & Pictures Ltd)

Thomas and Hilda Bell together

Hilda and Thomas Bell lounging together (Image: North News & Pictures Ltd)

Almost two months after Hilda’s death, she has been buried in the plot her husband has laid all these years after a burial service on Friday.

“We couldn’t rest until they were together and reunited after all this time,” said Tom.

“We had been living our day-to-day lives hoping that every phone call was to say they had found him.

“When they told me they had found it, I had to ask them twice if they were sure it was definitely him.

“Now we can finally begin to grieve for our mother knowing that they have been buried together.”

The lot where the family believed their father was buried

The plot where the family believed their father was buried (Image: North News & Pictures Ltd)

It is not yet clear how the mishap happened, or how many more bodies, if any, were buried in the wrong place in Wingate Cemetery.

The Diocese of Durham, which is responsible for burials at the cemetery, has launched a “lessons learned” investigation.

A spokesman said: “We are grateful that the family of Mr and Mrs Bell can now put their mother to rest in the same grave as their father and mourn in peace.”

“We will now seek to investigate why a distressing mistake was made about the placement of the gravestones 17 years ago and ensure that lessons to be learned are identified and acted upon.”

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