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Hull Minster holds 'beautiful' vigil for Legacy funeral home dead

On Saturday evening, a vigil was held at Hull Minister for those affected by a major police investigation into East Yorkshire-based Legacy Independent Funeral Directors, which followed concern for the "care of the deceased". BBC News was allowed to attend on condition no filming took place during the service.

With pain etched deep into tired faces, relatives of the dead formed a queue inside the minster to light a candle.

Some took the suggestion of Bishop of Hull, Dr Eleanor Sanderson, to softly whisper the name of their loved one followed by the simple but powerful words, "I love you".

"Light a candle in memory, in hope, in dignity and in love," invited Dr Sanderson, emotion in her voice.

Billie-Jo Suffill, pushing a pram carrying her five-month-old son Jenson, arrived as the candle-lighting drew to a close.

With no words exchanged - or needed - a kindly church steward, noticing them arrive, put an arm around the woman, smiled at her baby son, and guided them to the front of the minster to light their candle.

Ms Suffill previously told the BBC how she used Legacy Independent Funeral Directors for the cremations of her brother and father, who died in 2022. She said she never received her father Andrew Suffill's ashes.

Dr Sanderson opened the vigil by telling the 100-strong congregation the service was "one small step in a longer journey".

"There are so many unanswered questions," she said. "But we just wanted to provide a safe and private place for you to come together."

A passage from Song of Songs 8:6-7 was read by the Reverend Canon Dr Dominic Black, the minster's vicar.

"Love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave," said Dr Sanderson, repeating a line. "We have come to honour our loved ones. We carry them with us tonight, in our hearts."

Before the families arrived, the bishop pressed home to the media the importance of the vigil.

"We can see ripples all through the community," she said. "Almost all of us know someone connected in some way with the investigation.

"There are so many questions that just cannot be answered at the moment, which is naturally causing a lot of uncertainty."

Dr Sanderson said she had listened to the first interviews with those families affected.

"I saw a lot of love in those interviews. That speaks about the heart of Hull."

Dr Sanderson said she had spent the past few weeks praying for families and their deceased relatives "to be at peace".

Each person who attended left with a single flower.

Allowing her son to clutch the flower, Ms Suffill said: "I wasn't sure about coming tonight. I'm glad I did. The vigil was heart-breaking but beautiful."

A 46-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman, who were arrested on suspicion of prevention of a lawful and decent burial, fraud by false representation and fraud by abuse of position, remain on police bail. Police inquiries continue.


Timeline

6 March - Humberside Police receive a report "expressing concern about the storage and management processes relating to care of the deceased"

8 March - Cordons are erected and officers attend at Legacy's three premises - two in Hull and one in nearby Beverley

9 March - Officers arrest a 46-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman after they touch down at Heathrow Airport. The pair are "transported to Humberside"

10 March - 34 bodies are removed from Legacy's premises in Hessle Road, Hull, and taken to the city's mortuary

12 March - Police revise the number of bodies removed from the funeral directors to 35, adding a quantity of what they believe to be human ashes was also recovered from the premises. The force states two people arrested have since been been bailed

15 March - The families of all 35 deceased have now been contacted, police say. Specialists from the National Crime Agency are drafted in. Police say they have received more than 1,500 calls from the public

21 March - Officers say the two arrests were made at Heathrow Airport after the pair arrived in the UK



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